Syrian Children: Refugee Camps

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th July 2015.

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Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent 11:30 am, 8th July 2015

What steps the Government are taking to support the education of Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebanon.

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

The UK-led No Lost Generation initiative means that we fully back the Government of Lebanon’s Reaching All Children with Education plan. Our funding for education in Lebanon this year will increase from £10 million to £20 million, which will support the Lebanese Government’s efforts to double the number of Syrian children enrolled in Lebanese public schools.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Conservative, Faversham and Mid Kent

Does the Secretary of State believe that her Department’s efforts are effective in preventing a new generation of Syrian children from becoming radicalised?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

Yes, I absolutely do. Education is vital for all children, but especially children who are refugees: they are children and they should be in school. Many of the children I have met have been through hugely distressing situations. When asked to draw pictures, they draw pictures of places that have been bombed. When they hear a supply plane go over their room, they dive underneath their desks for cover. Education is possibly their main chance of having some prospect of a successful life ahead of them, and that is why it is so important.

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Shadow Minister (Justice), Chair, International Development Committee, Chair, International Development Committee

I welcome what the Secretary of State has said. Globally, just 1% of humanitarian aid is spent on education. Does she think that is acceptable? At this week’s Oslo summit, it has been suggested that there should be a global humanitarian fund for education in emergencies. Are the British Government willing to support that?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

In fact, the UK has in many respects pioneered how we ensure that children caught up in emergencies still get the chance to be in school. I pay tribute to the Norwegians for taking up the issue, too. We want more funding in this area. It is absolutely vital if we are to go beyond just providing life-saving supplies today to helping to preserve the futures of children for tomorrow.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

What is the Secretary of State doing to ensure that Lebanese schools educating both refugees and Lebanese children are supported at this very critical time?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

The main thing we are doing is to work hand-in-hand with the Lebanese Government, who have taken great steps over recent months to make sure that their schools can cope not only with their own children, but with a doubling in the number of Syrian refugee children who now need to use them. That means not just support for teachers, but support in schools, in their buildings and in textbooks as well.

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The Secretary of State will be aware that the Lebanese Minister for Education said that Lebanon is facing a $100 million shortfall in the budget for educating Syrian refugee children. What representations has she made to her international counterparts to ensure Lebanon gets that $100 million?

Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening The Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Gentleman is quite right to raise that issue. As I have just said, the UK has already increased our investment. In fact, at the UN General Assembly last year, I held a pledge meeting to get international partners to fund more of the educational needs in both Lebanon and Jordan specifically. That raised $344 million at the time, but, as he set out, this is an ongoing requirement and the international community must step up to fund it.