Keeping our promise to Syria’s refugees

Keeping Our Promise Briefing

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As the world struggles to cope with a pandemic and an economic downturn, there are many people being pushed even further to the margins of society. This is particularly true for the children of Syria. The international community may have repeatedly vowed to protect and nurture them, with assurances that there would be ‘no lost generation’, but they are more vulnerable than ever.

Among the more prominent promises made was the pledge at the 2016 London Conference that all children who had been forced to flee the war in Syria would be provided a place in school in neighbouring countries within a year. Initially, encouraging progress was made. But four years on from that pledge, and with the Syrian conflict now in its tenth horrific year, there are currently more than two million Syrian children of school age living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. More than 800,000 are out of school. This is in addition to the more than 2 million children out of school inside Syria.

On 30 June, 2020 the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region will be held, virtually. This provides a critical opportunity to revive the ‘no lost generation’ commitment and to put refugee education firmly back at the centre of the agenda, where it belongs. This briefing paper details how the promise of the London Conference, reiterated in the Brussels Conferences from 2017–2019, remains unfulfilled.

It shows that, worryingly, progress is in reverse. The numbers of children out of education are rising rather than declining and funding commitments are falling far short of what is needed It makes three recommendations for how donor host countries, UN agencies and civil society can change course, namely:

  1. Close the funding gap
  2. Develop new multi-year response plans to reach all children
  3. Improve performance and results

Syrian refugees haven’t given up on the hope of an education. We shouldn’t give up on them.