Clare Moody

MEP for the South West and Gibraltar

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Education, Refugees and the #16days Campaign

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This year, the 16 Days Campaign will focus specifically on the right to education with a special aim to focus attention on education situations of violent conflict.

The right to education is subject to political, economic, and social shifts and upheavals, leaving certain groups (especially women, girls, people with disabilities, LGBTQI people, migrants, and indigenous people) particularly vulnerable and liable to being denied this crucial right. 

You need to look no further than the on-going refugee crisis to see how quickly the right to education is lost and how millions of children are suffering from a lack of education.

The refugee crisis burst onto the national consciousness this year with millions of people have fleeing their homes. Not only are they displaced within Syria itself, they are spread across the neighbouring nations with 1million in Lebanon and 2.1million in Turkey alone.

Humanitarian aid and life-saving assistance including food and safe drinking water, non-food items, shelter, emergency medical treatments and protection is reaching these refugee camps especially as winter arrives and temperatures drop.

Yet educational provision is often overlooked when a crisis occurs, only 1% of all humanitarian aid goes towards education. When children can stay in school they not only continue on with their vital education but it gives them a certain constancy in their lives when everything else will have been thrown into chaos.

Currently there are 525,000 Syrian and Iraqi pre-school aged children living in Lebanon with another 621,000 refugee children in Turkey. Only half of those in Lebanon and a third of those refugee children in Turkey will continue their education while they are in the refugee camps.

By failing to deal with this chronic lack of educational provision we will create a generation of children across the Middle East that will be left behind. Without education, young children are more likely to be prey to early marriage, child trafficking, child labour, and are vulnerable to extremism.

The long-term effects of failing to deal with lack of available education in these refugee camps will not only hurt the children now but runs the risk of generation of refugees who will lack the skills and education to re-build their lives and the country.

With education at the heart of this years #16days campaign we must raise awareness of the plight of child refugees who are currently fleeing war, displaced from their homes not just within their own country but also far beyond. Yes, humanitarian aid must provide food, medicine and shelter but it must include a long-term commitment to helping refugees rebuild their lives through education. 

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