Friday, 01 August 2014

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No lost generation - the world must act now

Picture: UNICEF/NYHQ2013-1053/Halab

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners have appealed for $1 billion to save millions of Syrian children from becoming a “lost generation,” doomed by the civil war to a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures.

"The future for these children is slipping away, but there is still a chance to save them," UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said at the unveiling of the “No Lost Generation" initiative in Geneva.

Launched by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Save the Children, World Vision and other non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, the initiative calls for Governments, aid agencies the ordinary public to champion the children of Syria, where well over 100,000 people have been killed and 8 million others driven from their homes, 2 million of them as refugees in neighbouring countries, since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

A major public engagement campaign under the hashtag #childrenofsyria is being launched, using social media to enlist influential supporters and public contributors.

“For nearly three years, Syria's children have been the most vulnerable of all victims of the conflict, seeing their families and loved ones killed, their schools destroyed and their hopes eroded,” the agencies said in a joint news release.

“They have been wounded either physically, psychologically or both. Children have also become vulnerable to the worst types of exploitation, including child labour, recruitment into armed groups and forces, early marriage and other forms of gender based violence.”

Over 1 million refugees are children, more than 425,000 of them under the age of five, the vast majority of them in to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. Nearly 8,000 of these children have been identified as separated from their immediate families.

"Without these urgent investments, millions of Syrian children may never recover from so much loss and fear," Mr. Guterres said. "Their future, and the future of their nation, is at stake."

A special website has been established at http://www.championthechildrenofsyria.org that tells the stories of children affected by the conflict, and shows how investments in children can deliver important dividends, not just for the current victims of the war but for the longer-term future of Syria and the wider region.

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