Skip to main content

Syrian Children: Refugee Camps

Volume 598: debated on Wednesday 8 July 2015

1. What steps the Government are taking to support the education of Syrian children in refugee camps in Lebanon. (900801)

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.