In Syria, we are supporting education for the children of Syrian refugees who fled to Lebanon
As the Syrian political crisis continues, large numbers of Syrian children are missing out on an education, including thousands of refugee children living in countries neighbouring Syria.
In Lebanon – where there are at least 1.14 million Syrian refugees – the government is trying to take refugee children into public schools, but most refugee children have no access to education.
USPG has teamed up with Embrace the Middle East to provide basic education to Syrian refugee children, alongside other practical support, such as food distribution.
We are working with local churches to reach at least 200 particularly vulnerable children, aged 6 to 11 years old.
Your donations to the USPG Rapid Response Fund Syria Appeal helped set up a school in Zahle for Syrian children that will use the Syrian curriculum and utilise teachers from among the refugee population.
While the school will be set up with a specifically Christian ethos, students will include both Muslim and Christian Syrian refugees.
The worst refugee crisis since Rwanda genocide in 1994
Two million people have fled Syrian to escape a civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives. The UN has called it the worst refugee crisis since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
In August 2014, the UN estimated 6.5 million people had been displaced in Syria, with a further 3 million Syrians living as refugees in Lebanon (1.14 million), Jordan (608,000) and Turkey (815,000).
According to UNHCR, over 75 per cent of registered refugees are women and children. Most struggle to make ends meet and have no social support in Lebanon.
The most urgent needs include food and basic non-food items, shelter, medical care, education for children, and psychosocial support.
While some refugees can afford to rent apartments and rooms in hotels, an increasing number live in housing and any shelter they can find.
There is little or no educational support for refugee children. Families who can afford it send their children to private schools. Lebanese government schools are already overloaded and barely coping with the huge influx of Syrian refugee children.
As well as supporting education, local churches are providing refugee families with food aid and running a medical clinic. They have also completed a winterisation programme, conducted children’s camps and created child-friendly spaces.
Refugee children will be selected for educational assistance if they are from families that are classified as particular vulnerable, for example:
- If their family is very poor;
- If no other child in the family is going to school;
- If their parents don’t work;
- If there is a family member with a disability or elderly and in need of daily care;
- If a family member has a chronic sickness or is in need of daily medication;
- If it is a female-headed household (perhaps the father stayed in Syria) and the mother doesn’t work;
- If it is a large family with five or more children.
Being a refugee in Lebanon
An estimated 1.14 million Syrians have fled fighting in their country to seek refuge in Lebanon, where they are struggling to make ends meet.
Some arrive with a small amount of belongings and perhaps some savings; others arrive with nothing.
Ali Kayed, his wife Manal, and their five children (aged 5 to 13) are renting a one-room concrete shed in the Bekaa valley. There is no electricity and only an outdoor tap.
Ali and Manal found work packing grapes for £7 a day. When the season ended they had no income. Ali needed medication they could not afford, and their children did not have a school to go to.
Then they found help through the True Vine Baptist Church, in Zahle. They were given food and toiletries. The provisions reduce the likelihood that families will get into debt or sell productive assets to buy food.
Ali and Manal plan to return to Syria when it is safe. Meanwhile, they are looking for work, and their children are attending Sunday school.
[Names have been changed.]