2017 looking like "another year of fear" for children in conflict zones

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

2017 is already looking like "another year of fear" for children caught up in conflict, and denied their rights to an education.

That's according to the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, speaking at UN Headquarters on Thursday.

He pledged to invest US$42 million in child protection and schooling to help 1.5 million children caught up in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Matthew Wells reports.

Mr Brown said the investment "should serve as a signal flare of optimism" for those sacrificing the most during what he called "this moment of greatest need" such as teachers in Syria's underground schools.

He pointed to the financing gap which has left appeals for Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, less than 50 per cent funded.

Calling on the International Criminal Court to immediately investigate what he believes is a war crime perpetrated on a school in the Syrian town of Haas on Wednesday, in which 22 children died, he said US$15 million would be allocated for Syrian youngsters straight away.

He argued that a whole new approach was needed to help 30 million children displaced throughout the world, the largest number since the 1940s.

"We should now consider a new system for financing education in emergencies that is built on guaranteed funding, not a begging bowl…For children 2016 has been the year of fear. If 2017 is not to become another year of fear for the world's children, we must act now."

The former British Prime Minister said that the US$42 million was still not enough to satisfy the need of a "lost generation" of children, but he hoped it would prove to be a turning point.

"We have both the means and the knowledge to fulfil that most basic right, to an education," said the envoy.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'21"

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