"Misery to many generations" of schoolchildren unless world acts now

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A mother watches as three of her children head off to school in Qamishli, northern Syria. Photo: UNHCR/F. Al-Khateeb

"Many generations" of schoolchildren caught up in warzones or disaster areas face "misery" unless the world helps to restore their education.

That's according to the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown.

He was announcing a new global education fund on Monday, which will be officially launched at next week's World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Matthew Wells has more.

Mr Brown said that the new fund called Education Cannot Wait, would provide a "lost generation" with the first ever humanitarian fund for education in emergencies.

It would try and reach a total of 30 million girls and boys around the world, including 20 million who currently have no access to education at all, he told journalists at UN Headquarters.

He pointed to the three million children in and around Syria as the most dire case, but also highlighted other conflict and disaster areas such as Nigeria, Yemen and Nepal.

He said the fund backed by an unprecedented public-private partnership, could be the "only chance" to save a generation lost to war, child marriage, forced labour and violent extremism.

"We are facing a huge crisis for young people which will deliver misery to many generations if we do not act upon this, but at present, education with only 2 per cent of emergency funding, cannot wait, unless we deliver this new fund."

He said that the UN Children's Fund, UNICEF would host it initially, and the funds would be raised from more than 100 countries, companies and philanthropists working together.

Given the importance of online access to learning, there would be a special role played by information technology companies, added Mr Brown.

He said he hoped that Education Cannot Wait would live up to its name, and be up and running "very quickly".

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'16"

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