HRW: Education donations for Syrian refugees missing
BEIRUT: Efforts to meet the educational needs of Syrian child refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are being strained, with millions of dollars in schooling-related aid unaccounted for, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.
A HRW report released Thursday, entitled “Following the Money: Lack of Transparency in Donor Funding for Syrian Refugee Education,” was intended to follow up on commitments made by world leaders at a conference in London in 2016. The London conference’s mission was to identify ways to help the over 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon as well as the millions affected by the Syrian war throughout the region.
“Donors and host countries have promised that Syrian children will not become a lost generation, but this is exactly what is happening,” HRW researcher and co-author of the report Simon Rau said in a statement from the organization. “More transparency in funding would help reveal the needs that aren’t being met, so they could be addressed and get children into school.”
After tracing the money trail from the largest donors of education aid in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan – the countries supporting the highest number of Syrian refugees – the rights group found large discrepancies between the funds that were supposedly given and the amounts reported to have reached their intended targets in 2016.
But the HRW report noted that tracking the movements of funding had proved challenging due to different aid-tracking mechanisms and a dearth of clear, publicly available information. The monitoring group said that even education aid that did successfully reach its intended beneficiaries did not reach schools until after the start of the school year – meaning it arrived too late to enroll the children it was intended to help.
This financial situation directly contradicts the pledges made by Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey at the London conference in Feb. 2016. The three main refugee host countries were adamant that they would strive to provide “quality education” for Syrian refugee children and would secure funding for this education by the end of the 2016-17 academic year.
The Lebanese Education Ministry was unavailable for comment when contacted by The Daily Star Thursday regarding the claims.
“More than 200,000 Syrian children are still out of school in Lebanon, despite years of international funding to Lebanon’s public school system,” HRW Lebanon researcher Bassam Khawaja told The Daily Star. “Some have been out of schools for years; some have never been in school at all. Parents’ inability to afford transportation, their dependence on child labor to survive, and the bullying of Syrians [in school] are all causing children to miss out on an education.”
Between them, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey host at least 1.6 million child refugees from Syria. In Lebanon, classrooms are overcrowded, resulting in students attending school in two shifts, in order to ease the pressure. Still, more than half of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are not attending school, Lisa Abou Khaled, communications officer for the U.N. refugee agency, told the Associated Press.
Aid agencies in Lebanon are currently trying to fill a $25 million budget deficit to get students back to school this year, Abou Khaled said. –
Millions of dollars in school-related aid are unaccounted for.