More than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four years of conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule, as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State.
The violent internal conflict has demolished entire neighbourhoods and forced more than nine million people from their homes.
4 million have had to flee to neighbouring countries, with over a million of these ending up in Lebanon. With a population of just 4 million themselves, the Lebanese have the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world, and have been been struggling to accommodate this flood of new arrivals.
Large refugee camps are not permitted by the Lebanese government and as a result, throughout Bekaa Valley, small refugee camps of 50-100 families have sprung up, many of which are still without basic services for children, including education.
The official UN policy has been to integrate Syrian refugee children into Lebanese schools and the government has focussed their efforts and funds on making integration possible.
Currently though, in the camps we are working in there are a number of barriers to getting refugee children along to these schools. Consequently there is a need for the provision of informal education within the camps.
What we are doing to help
Our Lebanese partner, Mercy Foundation, provides health clinics, supplies and tent schools for Syrian refugee children in three camps.
Children on the Edge are supporting Mercy Foundation in the running of these tent schools which currently provide quality child-friendly education for 300 children. The schools are safe places with a trusted adult presence. Where other projects of this kind bring in teachers from the outside, this model raises up teachers from within the Syrian refugee community.
16 teachers have been trained from within the camps, which is creating a sense of ownership of the project throughout the community and providing vital livelihood opportunities.
Emergency supplies have been provided to help during the harsh winter weather and because of camp evacuations by the military it has been necessary to build and maintain a new camp, ensuring safety and stability for up to 50 refugee families.
The children here are following a Syrian curriculum in their own language and the schools are further developing the opportunity for them to play and enjoy being children. Many of these children have experienced trauma in Syria having witnessed the savage brutality of war, some of them having lost close family members. The ability to play is crucial for the healthy development of every child, helping them to feel secure, work out their feelings and tap into their natural resilience.
Separately to the schools we have supported the camp's health clinics by funding doctors from the UK through our medical partner Iasis. They have attended the clinics, treated patients and further developed the skills of local nurses.
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