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Syria

Volume 592: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2015

The UK has pledged £700 million so far in response to the Syria crisis, providing food, medical care and relief items to some of those most in need, including children. That includes the £50 million that I announced at the UN General Assembly for the No Lost Generation initiative, which will provide education, psycho-social support and protection for Syrian children who are affected by the crisis in Syria and the region.

Children who are displaced by the Syrian crisis not only lose their homes, but are at risk of having their life chances permanently and irreparably damaged. What is my right hon. Friend’s Department doing to help ensure that Syrian refugee children can not only expect adequate primary and secondary education, but have some hope of higher education?

I could not agree more with my right hon. Friend about the need to address the lack of education for children affected by this crisis, and the package that I mentioned announcing at the UN covers three new programmes specifically for education for Syrian refugees and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon. Those programmes will be about improving the quality of education, particularly for early-grade primary school children in Jordan, and integrating Syrian refugee children into the system. My right hon. Friend is right to say that more needs to be done, and we launched the international No Lost Generation initiative precisely to get more and broader support for the issue.

14. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is simply not possible for some of those children to receive the support and treatment they need in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, and that her Government should be doing more to resettle Syrian children and their families in this country? (907440)

I agree it is important that we play our role in the refugee crisis and provide refuge to people affected by it, which is precisely what we are doing. On helping children where they are—the overwhelming majority of children affected are still in the region—we are working hand in hand with the Lebanese Government to ensure that there is the capacity for children to get education. There is more to be done, but we can be proud of the leading role played by the UK.

On the visit to Jordan and Lebanon by the International Development Committee last year we saw the huge amount of work that those countries are doing to support children affected by the conflicts. What is the Department doing to ensure that the children of Jordan and Lebanon do not suffer because of the huge burdens placed on their public school systems?

We are working directly with both those Governments to ensure that our programmes help not only Syrian refugee children but, particularly in Lebanon, a host of children who were in school but perhaps did not get the textbooks they needed. We have provided a much broader package, and it is important that host communities are helped to cope with the strains that the refugees are putting on them.

Over a year ago, the Government committed to allowing a small number of refugees from Syria into the UK, including children with specific medical needs. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how many children from Syria with specific needs have been allowed to come to the UK?

I do not have that precise information but I am happy to write to the hon. Gentleman. As I said in response to an earlier question, that programme is in place to help Syrian refugees who particularly need to take advantage of it. The most important thing is to get broad international support to help the 3.8 million refugees who are now in the region and need assistance.