Arab children smiling

A Breakthrough for Child Refugees?

Buried in the declaration from the fourth United Nations’ Syria Pledging Conference in London is an important breakthrough: commitments that guarantee every Syrian refugee child a place in school by next year. The world, at long last, has taken seriously the need to provide education to conflict-affected children.

LONDON – Buried in the declaration from the just-completed fourth United Nations’ Syria Pledging Conference in London is a little publicized but important promise: by next year, every Syrian refugee child will be offered a place in school.

The world, at long last, has taken seriously the need to provide education to conflict-affected children. Up to this point, global humanitarian aid targeting education has accounted for less than 2% of funds pledged. Though this shift is yet to be fully funded, it reflects the long overdue recognition by governments and aid agencies that humanitarian crises are not over in weeks or months, and that refugees need more than food and shelter.

The myriad miseries confronting millions of out-of-school children should give us the political will to fulfill this pledge. Refugees spend an average of ten years away from their homes. Without intervention, many of the children displaced by Syria’s civil war – not to mention the other 24 million children worldwide who are out of school because of conflict – would never enter a classroom during their school-age years. As adults, they would remember childhoods spent in shacks, hovels, or the streets, deprived of the fulfillment and hope that comes with an education.

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