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UNHCR and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in programme to educate 172,000 refugee children

Press Releases, 16 November 2012

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday announced a joint programme with Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar to provide quality education for 172,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced children in 12 countries.

"My dream is to make sure that every refugee child has access to quality education so they have a chance to build a positive future for themselves and their communities," said Guterres, who was speaking at the launch of the Global Initiative on Educate a Child, part of the World Innovation Summit on Education, in the Qatari capital, Doha.

"Sheikha Moza's Educate a Child initiative helps bring that dream closer to reality by providing quality education to tens of thousands of refugee children around the world," he added.

Sheikha Moza's Educate a Child initiative is partnering with global organisations, including UNHCR, to bring quality education to children affected by extreme poverty, conflict and displacement.

"Right across the world, because of disaster, because of poverty, children are being denied a chance to change their destinies. We can change this, and because we can, we must," Sheikha Moza said in a speech.

Last month Sheikha Moza travelled to Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, where she met refugee children from Somalia and Sudan who will benefit from improved schooling as part of this initiative.

Sheikha Mozza invited Suad Mohammed, a Somali refugee and headmistress of one of the schools in the camp, to the summit. Suad spoke to the audience of over 1000 participants about the difference that education in the Kakuma refugee camp had made for her. She told the audience that she is now the headmistress of the school that educated her in the camp.

Supermodel Alek Wek, who is a former Sudanese refugee and a supporter of UNHCR, was a keynote speaker at the conference. During her speech she noted that children from South Sudan, will benefit from education under this initiative. Wek highlighted the importance of her own education, "If it wasn't for my education I could have been a one-hit wonder, but instead I have had a long career as a fashion model."

In 2012, the partnership between the Office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and UNHCR on Educate a Child is committing $12.5 million to educate 172,000 displaced and refugee children in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan. This is the first stage of a five-year programme and broadened partnership which will provide refugee children with new schools, better trained teachers and education supplies, while other activities and initiatives will support continued quality education and learning.

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Alek Wek Biography

Biography of the British Supermodel

Alek Wek and UNHCR

Learn about Alek Wek's links with UNHCR.

Chad: Education in Exile

UNHCR joins forces with the Ministry of Education and NGO partners to improve education for Sudanese refugees in Chad.

The ongoing violence in Sudan's western Darfur region has uprooted two million Sudanese inside the country and driven some 230,000 more over the border into 12 refugee camps in eastern Chad.

Although enrolment in the camp schools in Chad is high, attendance is inconsistent. A shortage of qualified teachers and lack of school supplies and furniture make it difficult to keep schools running. In addition, many children are overwhelmed by household chores, while others leave school to work for local Chadian families. Girls' attendance is less regular, especially after marriage, which usually occurs by the age of 12 or 13. For boys and young men, attending school decreases the possibility of recruitment by various armed groups operating in the area.

UNHCR and its partners continue to provide training and salaries for teachers in all 12 refugee camps, ensuring a quality education for refugee children. NGO partners maintain schools and supply uniforms to needy students. And UNICEF is providing books, note pads and stationary. In August 2007 UNHCR, UNICEF and Chad's Ministry of Education joined forces to access and improve the state of education for Sudanese uprooted by conflict in Darfur.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Chad: Education in Exile

Education for Displaced Colombians

UNHCR works with the government of Colombia to address the needs of children displaced by violence.

Two million people are listed on Colombia's National Register for Displaced People. About half of them are under the age of 18, and, according to the Ministry of Education, only half of these are enrolled in school.

Even before displacement, Colombian children attending school in high-risk areas face danger from land mines, attacks by armed groups and forced recruitment outside of schools. Once displaced, children often lose an entire academic year. In addition, the trauma of losing one's home and witnessing extreme violence often remain unaddressed, affecting the child's potential to learn. Increased poverty brought on by displacement usually means that children must work to help support the family, making school impossible.

UNHCR supports the government's response to the educational crisis of displaced children, which includes local interventions in high-risk areas, rebuilding damaged schools, providing school supplies and supporting local teachers' organizations. UNHCR consults with the Ministry of Education to ensure the needs of displaced children are known and planned for. It also focuses on the educational needs of ethnic minorities such as the Afro-Colombians and indigenous people.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Education for Displaced Colombians

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented Sister Angélique Namaika of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the prestigious Nansen Refugee Award at a gala ceremony in Geneva on Monday night.

Sister Angélique, through her Centre for Reintegration and Development, has helped transform the lives of more than 2,000 women and girls who had been forced from their homes and abused by fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) or other armed groups. Many of those she helps suffered abduction, forced labour, beatings, murder, rape or other human rights abuses.

The Roman Catholic nun helps survivors to heal by offering them the chance to learn a trade, start a small business or go to school. Testimonies from these women show the remarkable effect she has had on helping turn around their lives, with many affectionately calling her "mother."

The Award ceremony featured a keynote speech from best-selling author Paulo Coelho and musical performances by singer-songwriter Dido, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna and Grammy-nominated Malian musicians, Amadou and Mariam.

2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat campPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits Arbat camp

Concluding a visit to Iraq, UNHCR chief António Guterres met with Syrian refugees in Arbat camp in the Kurdistan region. Guterres noted the recent proliferation of humanitarian crises, but urged the international community not to forget about Syria, "the mega protracted crisis of our times."
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced IraqisPlay video

Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis

This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq.
Jordan: UNHCR and Host Countries Discuss SyriaPlay video

Jordan: UNHCR and Host Countries Discuss Syria

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres meets in Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp with leaders of countries hosting Syrian refugees in the region. He again urged the international community to do more to help these countries shoulder the burden.