The European Commission is providing an additional €1 million in funding so that children orphaned and affected by Ebola receive education and psychosocial support. The amount is part of the overall funding of €11 million allocated this year for educational projects in conflict areas under the EU Children of Peace initiative.
"We must give hope to the children affected by the devastating consequences of the Ebola epidemic. Around 6 million boys and girls have missed school. By investing in their education, we are investing in their future to give them the building blocks for life beyond Ebola", said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
This additional EU funding will support the re-opening of schools, currently closed due to the epidemic. It will be channelled through UNICEF and Save the Children - with each organisation receiving €500,000 - to develop educational projects in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
In addition, the European Union will train children and teachers in Ebola prevention, it will support measures to increase hygiene and sanitation in schools, provide psychosocial support, reintegrate children into their communities and strengthen the resilience of populations in the event of future health crises.
The EU's total financial contribution to date to fight the Ebola epidemic is over €1.8 billion. This amount includes funding from the Member States and the European Commission.
The Ebola outbreak is threatening to reverse years of progress in education. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 9.4 million children are living in the affected areas of West Africa. Out of this number, around 6 million have been forced to leave school because of the crisis. Many have been traumatised by the consequences of the disease, and some are experiencing stigmatisation and are being discriminated against and even threatened by their communities. More than 16,000 children have lost one or both parents or carers in this crisis.
The EU Children of Peace initiative is supporting a severely underfunded humanitarian sector: education in emergencies. Since the initiative was launched in 2012 as a legacy of the EU Nobel Peace Prize, every year it has funded humanitarian projects for children in conflict areas, providing them with access to schools where they can learn in a safe environment and receive psychosocial support to deal with traumatic experiences.
From the initial €2 million provided in 2012, the European Union has been scaling up its funding each year. To date, the European Union has allocated €23 712 500 for EU Children of Peace projects, including the contributions of €500 000 from Luxembourg and €250 000 from Austria in 2014. Around 263 000 boys and girls in 19 countries have benefited from the initiative so far. The additional €11 million released this year is expected to benefit over 1 250 000 children. By the end of 2015, more than 1 500 000 children will have been helped in 26 countries. The aim is to increase this further and dedicate 4% of the total humanitarian aid budget of the European Union, in the course of this Commission's mandate, to help with the provision of education in emergencies.
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