An estimated 75 million of displaced children are “in desperate need of educational support,” according to UNICEF.
“For children fleeing from the horrors of war and struggling with the disorientation and marginalization concomitant with sudden displacement, education provides an essential lifeline in restoring structure and a sense of normalcy,” Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), told EthicsDaily.com.
Lebanon is host to the most refugees in relation to its population, with 183 refugees per 1,000 citizens.
Local churches and faith-based organizations have been working diligently in the nation to minister to needs of displaced persons since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.
LSESD is currently providing education to more than 1,000 refugee children through its relief and development division – Middle East Revive and Thrive, or MERATH.
“Needs become more evident in a school-setting; hungry children, whose rumbling bellies would have gone unheard, can now have access to food,” Costa explained. “Children who show up to class without coats and shoes can be provided with the clothing that they need to stay warm in the cold winter months.”
“In essence,” he said, “education programs are our best shot at upholding the dignity of refugee and IDP (internally displaced persons) children who are created in the image of God, providing a framework in which to enforce their basic human rights.”
Christos Stylianides, European Union commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, made similar observations at a late November International Education in Emergencies Forum hosted by the European parliament.
Education is “as vital as food and medicine,” he asserted. “When conflict or other crises strike, children need more than food, shelter and medicine.”
Stylianides said, “Education can be just as much of a life-saver, providing children with a safe, protective space and helping ensure they learn the skills they need to build a better future for themselves and their communities.”