Efforts to reach and assist Syrian children affected by that country’s nearly four-year-long conflict are making headway, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) declared today, adding that much work remained to be done as an entire generation of Syrian youth continues to be at risk.
The announcement came as the UNICEF-backed “No Lost Generation” initiative released its new report at a key meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly, confirming that educational assistance had already reached some 770,000 Syrian children affected by the violence while another 660,000 children had received psychological support.
Speaking at the report’s presentation, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake underscored the importance of assisting the war children, adding that Syria’s youths were the pillars of the country’s future.
“Helping the children of Syria is investing in the future of Syria, as today’s children are tomorrow’s doctors, teachers, lawyers and leaders,” Mr. Lake declared.
A UNICEF report released in March 2014 highlighted the vulnerability of this generation of Syrian children, noting that up to a million youth remained trapped in under-siege and hard-to-reach areas where they lived in rubble and struggled to find food, medical care or psychological support. It also noted that 1.2 million children lived abroad in host countries, populating crowded refugee camps and beleaguered host communities with scarce resources.
The “No Lost Generation” initiative’s new findings noted, however, that host communities and other partners have managed to make “significant progress” in reaching those displaced children with assistance.
According to the report, enrolment in formal and non-formal education registered a 188.5 per cent increase since 2013 while 128,000 pupils were helped to attend school clubs in volatile cross-line areas. In addition, 72,000 children inside Syria and 587,000 refugee children living in host countries were provided with psycho-social support.
Despite the gains, the report also found that adolescents were particularly vulnerable and underserved, leaving them exposed to the lure of armed groups. The creation of opportunities to prevent them from succumbing to Syria’s deepening violence remained a “critical” necessity amid the overall effort to save the country’s children, the report warned.
“Investing in this generation is helping them acquire the skills and knowledge they will need to rebuild their communities when peace returns,” continued Mr. Lake.
“We need to heal their hearts and minds. And there is much more to be done.”