Gordon Brown, former British prime minister and present UN special education envoy, has asked for the international community’s support for the war-struck Syrian students that have fled Lebanon.
The conflict in Syria has put pressure on the small Middle-East country that has to host and support them. Gordon Brown vowed to raise $100 million in aid for Syrian students in the next 100 days before the beginning of the next school year.
For Brown, 2015 is the year of fear, and he considers it even more dangerous than 1945, the year World War II ended. Gordon Brown said in a briefing in New York that out of 38 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) more than half, 16.7, million are school-age children. Brown added:
“This is not the year of the child but the year of fear, with 2015 already the worst year since 1945 for children being displaced, the worst year for children becoming refugees, the worst year for children seeing their schools attacked.”
Brown said the number is expected to grow even further as children are being forced away from education and into child labor due to political crises and conflicts:
“Today in some of the world’s most troubled spots it is open season for traffickers, with girls snatched from the streets in Nepal to adolescents forced into marriage in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.”
The crisis in Syria has resulted in roughly 4 million refugees in the last few years, with 1.7 million registered in Turkey. Lebanon alone, with a population of just four million, is host to more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees.
In 2014, more than 100,000 Syrian students enrolled in Lebanon’s public schools, according to Lebanese Education Minister Elia Abu Saab.
“We have climbed one mountain, and made it possible for 100,000 refugee children to get to school, but we must now climb another mountain, and we must do it very quickly,” Gordon Brown said speaking in a news conference in Lebanon.
Brown highlighted that it is essential that young refugees from Syria are not derived of their right to education:
“Of course we want them to be able to return to their home country as early as possible and to build education services in Syria, but as long as (these children) are here it’s vital that we could extend to more children the opportunity of education.”
Lebanon has received $100 million from the international community, aid that is enabling its schools to welcome 100,000 Syrian school-age children in its public classrooms.
As the education minister of explains, teachers have been doing extra and double shifts, including night teaching shifts to meet the growing demand and sudden surge in student numbers, AFP.com reports.
About 106,000 Syrian children are presently enrolled in Lebanon’s 150 public schools.