Clooney Foundation for Justice partners with UNICEF to open seven public schools to Syrian refugee children


Clooney Foundation for Justice partners with UNICEF to open seven public schools to Syrian refugee children

On 7 December 2013 in Lebanon, Aliya, 7, completes homework in the tent she shares with 16 family members, in an informal tented settlement for Syrian refugees in Dalhamieh, a small village in the Bekaa Valley. Aliya and her brother Ali are the youngest children of a large family, spanning her father’s three marriages. Most of her siblings fled from their village in Idlib Governorate two years earlier, while Aliya and Ali remained with their parents in Lebanon. The area where they lived was regularly affected by violence. “There were many missiles and rockets,” Aliya recalled. “Every day they would fall on us. I was afraid. My brother and I would go hide in my room.” About one year ago, their home was shelled in an attack that killed their mother and father. Neighbours then called the children’s oldest brother, Abu-Thamer, to return to the Syrian Arab Republic for his siblings. “Ali did not speak at all until we got to Lebanon,” he said. The transition to life away from home has also been difficult for Aliya. “I was surprised when I first saw the tent here, I thought, ‘My God, how can everyone stand this?’ … but when I thought of the bombing back home, I said to myself that this is better.” Aliya had been attending a tented school, but it was recently closed due to inclement weather. “The tent … does not keep water out. It was closed so we don’t get sick. They didn’t tell us when it will open again, but I want it to because I want to learn.”

As the Syrian crisis enters its fourth year, needs are escalating at an increasingly urgent pace, with children bearing the greatest toll. Since March 2011, over 7,000 children have lost their lives in the violence, while hundreds of thousands have been wounded, some of whom must now live with life-long disabilities caused by their injuries. By mid-December 2013, the conflict had left 6.5 million people displaced internally. They are among 9.3 million people inside the country in need of hu

© UNICEF/UNI156405/Noorani

On 7 December 2013 in Lebanon, Aliya, 7, completes homework in the tent she shares with 16 family members in an informal tented settlement for Syrian refugees in Dalhamieh, a small village in the Bekaa Valley.

With support from and HP Inc., the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s HK$17.55 million (US$2.25 million) partnership and HK$7.8 million (US$1 million) technology grant will enroll thousands of currently out-of-school refugees in formal education

NEW YORK/HONG KONG, 31 July 2017 – The Clooney Foundation for Justice today announced a HK$17.55 million (US$2.25 million) partnership, which includes a generous donation from, and a HK$7.8 million (US$1 million) technology grant from HP, to support formal education for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The partnership with UNICEF will help seven public schools to provide critical education opportunities to nearly 3,000 currently out-of-school refugee students this school year, and will also support a pilot of technology tools in these schools to advance learning outcomes for refugee children and Lebanese youth.

“Thousands of young Syrian refugees are at risk — the risk of never being a productive part of society. Formal education can help change that. That’s our goal with this initiative. We don’t want to lose an entire generation because they had the bad luck of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said George and Amal Clooney.

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. Lebanon, which has the world’s highest per capita refugee population, has been particularly affected by an influx of more than one million Syrian refugees. This surge has left local resources strained, affecting both refugee children and Lebanese students.

Of today’s announcement, Lebanon’s Minister of Education, Marwan Hamade said “The Government of Lebanon is profoundly grateful to the leadership of George and Amal Clooney and the Clooney Foundation for Justice. We are delighted the Clooney Foundation has decided to support our efforts to open the doors of more public schools to ensure we can offer every child currently living in Lebanon a free education. We are also looking forward to collaborating with the Clooney Foundation and its partners on advancing innovative technology in all our classrooms. Each child given access to education, and new ways of learning, represents a life changed for the better. Today’s grant from the Clooney Foundation for Justice is therefore a crucial investment in future generations in Lebanon.”

The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s initiative, combining financial support with technology, will improve educational opportunities for both Lebanese and Syrian refugee children, so many of whom are missing out on an education.

“How can children become the workers and leaders of their countries someday if they have not had the education and support they need to reach their full potential?” asked UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “By supporting the work of UNICEF and our partners to deliver education to every child affected by the conflict in Syria, the Clooney Foundation for Justice is not only investing in the futures of individual children, it is investing in the future of the entire region.  UNICEF is deeply grateful for this critical funding.”

Close to 200,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are out of school. Their lives have been shaped by violence, displacement and lack of opportunity, and many have never been enrolled in formal education. Without access to learning and a return to a sense of normalcy, these children are at risk of becoming a lost generation. The Clooney Foundation for Justice is committed to supporting efforts that ensure children get the experiences they need to thrive. UNICEF has been working with partners across the region to put children first since the crisis began. In addition to providing emergency assistance and essential services, including child-friendly spaces, UNICEF and partners have been at the forefront of efforts to address the long-term needs of Syrian refugee children, including education, counseling and social inclusion.

“We must ensure that we do not fail those most vulnerable victims who have managed to flee the carnage in Syria. It is our hope that the refugee children who will soon start school through this initiative will have a chance to contribute to building a more peaceful and just world and, hopefully, one where those responsible for these grave crimes are held to account.” said Ambassador David Pressman, Executive Director of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.