Bold Action Cannot Wait: Invest in Their Education – Director’s Corner
For far too long, millions of parents have struggled to send their children and adolescents to school amidst armed conflicts, forced displacement, climate change-induced disasters and COVID-19. Now, the brutal daily reality of millions in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America is playing out in Europe. We are all in this together.
In Ukraine, the lives and wellbeing of as many as 7.5 million school-aged girls and boys are under severe threat from a deadly armed conflict. These children and youth are suffering trauma, shelling, displacement, injury and death. Without our urgent support, they will be left behind – together with an additional 128 million children and youth in emergencies and protracted crises around the world.
We know that bold action cannot wait. We are all moving together with speed, using all our capacities to rapidly alleviate human suffering in Europe. At ECW, we are already finalizing an Emergency Response for Ukraine – an investment in the continued and protective education of Ukrainian girls and boys impacted by this devastating conflict.
At the same time, the drumbeat of crisis and violence echoes across the globe. In Sudan, political tensions driven by drought and conflict are pushing girls and boys from their homes and out of the safety of the classroom. In Syria, an economic crisis compounded by a decade of war and forced displacement have put millions of lives on the line. In Somalia, terror attacks, droughts, locust plagues and other horrors are propelling cycles of hunger, displacement, insecurity and poverty.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we see one of Africa’s forgotten crises unfold with close to 5 million vulnerable children and adolescents in need of urgent and sustainable education. In Nigeria, kidnapped schoolgirls remain missing and suffer grave abuses and violations. In Yemen, hundreds of schools and hospitals have been damaged and used for military purposes in a decades-long conflict. In Ethiopia, climate change, poverty, hunger and other factors trigger violence, displacement and famine. In Myanmar, Rohingya girls and boys have suffered unspeakable horrors and are in continued need of educational support in their place of refuge, Bangladesh. And in Afghanistan, most secondary-school girls have yet to return to school.
Seeing clearly where this is heading, strategic partners like Germany have stepped up with bold, substantial and game-changing new, additional contributions to fund ECW’s multi-year resilience programmes across 24 crisis-affected countries. As German Minister for Economic Cooperation & Development Svenja Schulze says in this month’s ECW high-level interview, “By bringing together public and private actors in humanitarian aid and development cooperation, ECW creates a bridge between short-term humanitarian action and longer-term development.” Indeed, the humanitarian-development nexus and its immediate relation to peace largely depends on a quality education.
With rapidly growing numbers of children and youth out of school – girls and boys whose very survival is threatened by unspeakable conflicts, climate crises and forced displacement – we know that education is not only their right, but it is all too often lifesaving. Education is also indispensable to peace, stability and human rights, and thus prevents more conflict, instability and human suffering.
We know that education cannot wait. We must now choose to take bold, collective and game-changing action to finance education for all children and youth in emergencies and protracted crises before it is too late.