Grant clears path to university in Jordan and Lebanon for Syrian refugees

News Stories, 18 July 2014

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
Tamara, a 20-year-old Syrian refugee, fled her town of Idlib with the most important thing she was able to bring -- her diploma. She hopes to be able to continue her education.

LONDON, 18 July (UNHCR) One hundred Syrian refugee students will begin four-year university courses in Jordan and Lebanon this autumn thanks to a grant of more than US$1.8 million by the Said Foundation to UNHCR's DAFI programme.

The donation by the Said Foundation, a British-based charity devoted to providing opportunities for education, will fund two-thirds of the UN refugee agency's scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon this year. DAFI is the only global higher education programme for refugees.

"Syria is the Foundation's highest priority and, in the current tragic circumstances, assistance for displaced and refugee Syrians is naturally at the heart of our work," said the Chairman of the Foundation, Wafic Rida Said, on signing the agreement with UNHCR.

"Taking a longer-term perspective, the Foundation has been known for three decades for its initiatives in support of higher education, a focus born of our conviction that higher education is a force for change and a force for good."

The Syrian conflict, in a fourth year, has so far forced more than 2.9 million people to flee, the vast majority into neighbouring countries, and displaced a further 6.5 million within Syria. Half the refugees are children and youth.

"The ongoing Syria conflict is shattering the aspirations of millions of young Syrians, robbing them of the opportunity to build a future for themselves and their war-torn county. Ensuring that these young people have access to quality education while they are refugees is essential in addressing this urgent challenge," said Roland Schilling, UNHCR representative to the United Kingdom. "The support of the Said Foundation, UNHCR's most significant private UK donor, is therefore indispensable."

The Said Foundation's grant will greatly help the continuing provision of scholarships for Syrian refugees in Jordan and the launching of the first higher education scholarship programme for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

In 2014, UNHCR aims to support up to 150 Syrian students in Jordan and Lebanon. Two out of three of these students will be supported over the next four years through the $1,836,785 grant of the Said Foundation.

Refugees face many obstacles in accessing higher education, lacking adequate learning environments and resources to achieve their academic goals. UNHCR estimates only one percent of young refugees of higher education age are at universities.

"UNHCR is grateful to the Said Foundation for this generous investment in the future of young Syrians," said Schilling. "We call on other private sector supporters to follow this lead and support UNHCR's 'No Lost Generation' strategy to protect a generation of Syrian youth from a life of despair, diminished opportunities and broken futures."

The higher education scholarship for Syrian refugee students in Jordan and Lebanon through UNHCR's DAFI programme will cover all types of post-secondary and tertiary education: education at colleges and universities, leading to degrees; as well as technical, vocational, professional and para-professional training, resulting in certificates and diplomas.

The DAFI programme (a German acronym for the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Programme), provides scholarships to refugees to study at universities and colleges in their host countries, and more recently in the countries of return upon repatriation.

Since 1992, DAFI has provided scholarships for more than 6,000 refugees. Currently, over 2,000 students a year 40 percent of them women -- have a chance to earn a degree at universities in 40 hosting countries. Support from the Said Foundation fund will give UNHCR a vital opportunity to expand higher education scholarship programmes in the Middle East.

By Andrej Mahecic in London, United Kingdom





Education is vital in restoring hope and dignity to young people driven from their homes.

DAFI Scholarships

The German-funded Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative provides scholarships for refugees to study in higher education institutes in many countries.

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

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency has named the British coordinator of a UN-run mine clearance programme in southern Lebanon and his civilian staff, including almost 1,000 Lebanese mine clearers, as the winners of the 2008 Nansen Refugee Award.

Christopher Clark, a former officer with the British armed forces, became manager of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre-South Lebanon (UNMACC-SL) n 2003. His teams have detected and destroyed tons of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and tens of thousands of mines. This includes almost 145,000 submunitions (bomblets from cluster-bombs) found in southern Lebanon since the five-week war of mid-2006.

Their work helped enable the return home of almost 1 million Lebanese uprooted by the conflict. But there has been a cost – 13 mine clearers have been killed, while a further 38 have suffered cluster-bomb injuries since 2006. Southern Lebanon is once more thriving with life and industry, while the process of reconstruction continues apace thanks, in large part, to the work of the 2008 Nansen Award winners.

2008 Nansen Refugee Award

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