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UN announces education fund for child refugees

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced a fund to provide education to millions of displaced children and school-age refugees. The UN plans to raise billions for the initiative, called Education Cannot Wait.

Gordon Brown, speaking in his role as UN special envoy for global education on Monday, said the creation of the initiative was prompted by the war in Syria.

An estimated 20 million children have been forced to

leave their homes and schools

due to current conflicts, according to Brown.

"When we ask ourselves what breaks the lives of once thriving young children, it's not just the Mediterranean wave that submerges the life vest and it's not just the food convoy that does not arrive in Syria," said Brown. "It's also the absence of hope - the soul crushing certainty that there is nothing to plan or prepare for, not even a place in school."

The UN intends to launch the initiative, the first of its kind, at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next week. The program, dubbed Education Cannot Wait, seeks to raise $3.85 billion (3.42 billion euros) from private and public donors over the next five years.

Education against migration

The vast majority of people fleeing the war in Syria stay in the region, according to Brown. It would take close to $800 million per year to send Syrian children to school in camps across Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

At the same time, parents would be less likely to

head to Europe

if they believed their children could get an education close to Syria, said the former prime minister.

Brown also called for more help for asylum seekers in Europe, but stated that "the biggest problem and the biggest number of people who need help, particularly children" were staying near to the conflicts that had driven them away from home.

The children are in danger of becoming "victims of child labor, child trafficking and child marriage" and eventually forming a "lost generation," he said.

Watch video 03:35

From Syrian refugee to restaurateur

dj/cmk (AP, AFP)

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