As a new school year gets under way across the Middle East, a major injection of funds from the European Union is boosting efforts to provide learning opportunities and protection to hundreds of thousands of children and youth who have fled the Syria conflict.
Within the context of the London pledging conference for Syria earlier this year, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (the 'Madad Fund') committed €90 million in support of UNICEF’s work with children and young people who have fled the war in Syria to take refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Children and youth in host communities that are themselves struggling with access to education and basic services, will also benefit.
“The EU funds are offering a life-line to children and youth, many of whom have seen their homes, schools and lives torn apart and who risk becoming a lost generation,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We need to invest in them now so they can become the doctors, nurses, lawyers and teachers who are so crucial in building a brighter future for the region.”
While millions of children are returning to school this month throughout the region, close to 3 million Syrian children inside Syria and in neighbouring countries remained out of school as of July this year and continue to be at risk of violence, abuse and neglect.
“The EU Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis is one of Europe's key instruments for delivering on our €3 billion pledge at the London conference on supporting Syria and the region. The partnership between the EU Trust Fund and UNICEF for Syria's children is a key element of our response and the largest contract signed by the Fund so far. With this support, we are able to address the situation for children and youth of Syria quickly and with flexibility. The EU's financial contribution will help preventing "a lost generation" with all its negative consequences for the whole region”, said Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations ahead of a meeting in New York with Mr. Lake in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
The €90 million is in addition to €12.5 million granted to UNICEF by the Madad Fund last year. In Turkey alone, around €50 million from these EU funds are supporting education and child protection programmes, reaching thousands of children.
Regionally, over 116,000 children have benefitted from these services to date, while around 248,000 children will receive different forms of support by the end of 2017.
22 EU Member States, Turkey, and the EU itself have so far committed over €736 million to the Madad Fund, which is set to reach more than €1 billion before the end of the year. The Madad Fund was established in 2014, and has become the prime EU instrument in response to the Syrian refugee crisis in neighbouring host countries.