Ogata donates Korean prize to refugee education

Press Releases, 16 October 2000

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, has decided to donate her US $200,000 award as Laureate of the 2000 Seoul Peace Prize to a new Refugee Education Trust, UNHCR said today. Ogata pledged her personal support for the trust: "For refugee children, as for all other children education should be a promise not a dream," she said.

The Refugee Education Trust is being established to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNHCR on December 14, 2000. "The longevity of the UNHCR is not in itself a cause for celebration, but we believe that it is important to pay tribute to the courage, creativity and resilience of refugees are," Ogata said.

The Trust will be an independent body composed of internationally renowned individuals and education experts. It will seek funds from private and public donors, focusing on providing post-primary education to refugee adolescents and youth in developing countries.

A recent study commissioned by UNHCR found a massive discrepancy between refugee enrolment in secondary school (3 per cent) and the average enrolment for nationals (18 per cent) in the least developed countries. That discrepancy increases when gender is taken into account, and is even more pronounced at tertiary education level.

The 2000 Seoul Peace Prize was handed to Ogata in Seoul on Friday. On the same day she was received by the President of South Korea, Kim Dae Jung the winner of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize and a former refugee. President Kim is also one of hundreds of former refugees who have agreed to feature on UNHCR's special anniversary website (www.unhcr-50.org), the Gallery of Prominent Refugees, one of many projects which mark a half century of refugee achievements.

The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 following the Seoul Olympic Games. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former US Secretary of State George Schultz are among previous laureates.

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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

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

UNHCR aims to help 25,000 refugee children go to school in Syria by providing financial assistance to families and donating school uniforms and supplies.

There are some 1.4 million Iraqi refugees living in Syria, most having fled the extreme sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra in 2006.

Many Iraqi refugee parents regard education as a top priority, equal in importance to security. While in Iraq, violence and displacement made it difficult for refugee children to attend school with any regularity and many fell behind. Although education is free in Syria, fees associated with uniforms, supplies and transportation make attending school impossible. And far too many refugee children have to work to support their families instead of attending school.

To encourage poor Iraqi families to register their children, UNHCR plans to provide financial assistance to at least 25,000 school-age children, and to provide uniforms, books and school supplies to Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR. The agency will also advise refugees of their right to send their children to school, and will support NGO programmes for working children.

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

Iraqi Children Go To School in Syria

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

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