© UNICEF/UN018824/Zaidi – Zainab Jan, 12, is a student at a UNICEF-supported school in the Jalozai IDP camp in Nowshera district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
BRUSSELS / NEW YORK/ HONG KONG, 16 May 2016 – The European Union and UNICEF today launched #EmergencyLessons, a new campaign to highlight the importance of education for children affected by emergencies.
The social media-driven public awareness campaign aims to reach 20 million Europeans, especially those 25 and under, in Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom and inspire them to raise their voices on behalf of millions of children and adolescents whose education has been interrupted by emergencies.
The #EmergencyLessons campaign draws on the real-life experiences of children living through emergencies in countries such as Guinea, Iraq, Nepal and Ukraine. Their personal stories on the extraordinary lengths they go to obtain an education demonstrate why children can and must continue to learn. Over the next seven months, these stories will be shared on social media through #EmergencyLessons. And in doing so, raise awareness, understanding and support among Europeans.
“Young people understand better than anyone how important education is to their lives today and to their futures. Who knows better than they that their tomorrows depend on what they learn today? Who, better than today’s youth, can demand that the world provides them with the skills they will need to build a better world? Their future, and ours, depends on it,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
Nearly one in four of the world’s school-aged children – 462 million – now lives in 35 countries affected by crises, including an estimated 75 million children who are in desperate need of educational support.
Apart from missing out on education, and the benefits it yields for them and for their societies, out of school children are more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and recruitment by armed forces. Schools provide a safe haven where children can be protected from these threats.
The campaign also celebrates the other benefits of going to school – the friends made, the teachers who support children through trauma, the stability found in the routine of attending classes.
“Here in Europe, we tend to take school for granted, and forget what a vital part of life it is to children, especially when everything else around them is collapsing,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
“We hope this campaign will better help Europeans understand why, when disaster strikes, opportunities to learn are just as important as access to food, water, vaccines and shelter.”
A number of celebrities are lending their support to #EmergencyLessons, such as Italian European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, Slovenian Basketball player Boštjan Nachbar, Hungarian news presenter and media personality Kriszta D. Tóth, as well as Slovakian dancer Jaro Bekr.