Beirut, 1 November 2013 – Lebanon’s generosity in supporting more than 400,000 refugee children from Syria should be matched by further international investment in public services such as education, said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake as he ended a visit to the country.
“Lebanon has made a tremendous commitment to caring for children fleeing Syria, despite the increased pressure on public services such as health and education,” said Mr. Lake.
“The international community has not only a humanitarian obligation to the children but a responsibility to match Lebanon’s commitment, by investing more in services that benefit every child in this country – both refugees and those in the host communities.”
In meetings with Lebanese President His Excellency General Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister His Excellency Najib Mikati, Mr. Lake reaffirmed UNICEF’s continued collaboration in the areas of health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, hygiene and protection through programmes targeted at the most vulnerable children in some of the poorest communities in Lebanon.
Particular concerns were shared about the impact of the approaching winter months, and the need for urgent action to prepare for this especially challenging period.
“I have met Lebanese teachers working tirelessly to deliver a quality education to many more children than they ever imagined in their classrooms,” said Mr. Lake. “And I have met Syrian children living in tented settlements who still dream of seeing their homes and their toys again.”
“One feels a mix of exhilaration at the progress being made and the brave smiles of the children but also the heartbreak of hearing their stories of loss. We must all do more to support a generation of children who will build the future of this region.”
UNICEF and other agencies working with children affected by the conflict in Syria have warned of the long-term impact of the trauma experienced by many children, urging more attention be paid to education and psychological programmes alongside life-saving services.
For further information please contact Ms. Soha Boustani, UNICEF Lebanon spokesperson, Phone +961 1756101 (Ext 2062)