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Across the Somalia Border: Why Education in Emergencies?

War destroys lives. As conflict rages and thousands of people flee their homes, communities are ripped apart, daily life collapses and the most vulnerable are always the hardest hit.

The horrifying truth is that 90% of victims of conflicts are civilians and half of these are children.

Every year, thousands of children die, while many more are injured, orphaned or separated from their family purely because they are growing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For the girls and boys able to escape the fighting, the catastrophic effects can last a lifetime. All too often, we see children forced to abandon their education as they flee conflict zones, either because they end up in areas without education infrastructure or because the schools they do have access to have been requisitioned for shelter, are vastly oversubscribed or are directly targeted by those involved in the fighting.

Education is paramount

When a humanitarian emergency strikes, the context changes but a child’s need for education does not.
Education is paramount for both the protection and the development of children affected by conflict. It helps children affected by war to remain children and for many it can be the only thing that provides any sense of normality and routine.

Education is a fundamental right for all children. But the devastating impact of conflict on education is often ignored.

Education is a priority

After an emergency strikes, children tell us that what they want most – alongside medicines, food and shelter – is to go to school.
Here in Dollo Ado Refugee Complex, it is no different. Over 69% of the 195,000 refugees are children. And 95% of these never had any form of formal education back in their native Somalia.

Somali children take part in Save the Children’s Alternative Basic Education programme for Somali refugees in Heleweyn camp

Fleeing conflict, they often arrive with traumatic experiences and little hope for the future. But our work is helping to change that.

Thanks to funding from the European Union’s ‘Children of Peace’ Initiative, over 5,400 Somali refugees in Dollo Ado will join the thousands of children who benefit daily from our Education in Emergencies work.

Yet there is still much to do. Access to education continues to be denied to many children who need it most. Today there are approximately 61 million children out of school worldwide, of which more than half live in conflict-affected areas.

Every child should have the opportunity to grow up in peace and develop their potential fully. And access to basic education is integral to making this happen. As one 14-year-old girl recently told me: “Knowledge is a light. A person who is educated can see everything and go anywhere they want.”

This is the final in a series of posts from the Ethiopia/Somalia border: read the first blog post here, the second here and the third here.

Mark Kaye, Humanitarian Communications ERP, and Jonathan Hyams, Humanitarian Film & Photo ERP, were in Dollo Ado to report on Save the Children’s latest Education in Emergencies project, funded by the European Union’s Children of Peace Initiative, which will see over 5,400 children gain access to basic education, many for the first time. Ultimately, the project will help them to begin to recover from the effects of conflict.
As part of the initiative Save the Children are also working jointly with the Norwegian Refugee Council, who will help over 9,000 children affected by conflict access school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For more information on the European Union’s Children of Peace Initiative please click here.


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