HRW: Ed­u­ca­tion do­na­tions for Syr­ian refugees miss­ing

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

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.

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