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Executive Summary for May 17th

We review recent refugee issues, including the U.N. push to help millions of refugee children who are missing out on an education, a new E.U. pilot program to teach local languages to displaced populations and Rwanda’s expulsion of more than 1,500 Burundian refugees.

Published on May 17, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Education Coming to the Forefront of the Refugee Crisis

The United Nations special envoy for global education Gordon Brown announced on Monday that the U.N. would create its first fund dedicated to the education of refugee children.

The fund, titled “Education Cannot Wait,” hopes to reach roughly 20 million school-age children who are currently being denied proper schooling. Its aim is to raise $3.85 billion from donors in the private sector over the next five years.

“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, 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,” Brown said.

The lack of education for displaced children is an often ignored consequence of humanitarian crises. Some 3.5 million children around the world today are out of school and last year humanitarian crises disrupted the education of 80 million children, according to a new report from Save The Children.

“The average length of time spent living as a refugee is now 17 years, meaning that millions of children and young people will miss out on some – if not all – of their education, severely diminishing their own future life chances and that of their families and communities,” said Tanya Steele, interim CEO of Save the Children.

The E.U. is Testing Language Classes for Refugees in Greece

Greece launched a European Union-funded pilot program on May 16 to begin language courses for refugee children.

Courses will commence over the summer with the aim of preparing children for the beginning of the school year in September, according to Greece’s E Kathimerini newspaper.

The Greek education ministry will oversee the program, and refugees will be taught their mother tongue, as well as Greek and English. Greece has already begun collecting data from the refugee camps in order to plan the program and make sure all language needs are met, according to Newsweek.

“Many of these children, some of whom haven’t been in school for a while now, have parents [who] … think, We’re going to get to Holland and learn Dutch and English and forget all about Arabic. And they shouldn’t do that,” Rachel McCormack, a professor of literacy education and founder of an initiative to delivery Arabic books to refugee camps in the Netherlands, told The Atlantic.

Rwanda Expels More Than 1,500 Burundian Refugees

Burundi officials on May 16 accused the Rwandan government of expelling 1,528 Burundians over the last week after they refused to move into refugee camps.

Many of those expelled had fled violence in their home country and had been working in Rwanda.

Since May 13, at least 1,310 people have arrived in Burundi’s Kirundo province, next to the Rwandan border, while another 218 arrived in Ngozi province in the same period, interior ministry permanent secretary Terence Ntahiraja told reporters on Monday. The Rwandan government denied these accusations, but the claims are a sign of increasing tension between the two countries.

“They were asked to go to refugee camps or return back to Burundi,” Melchior Nankwahomba, the governor of Kirundo, told Reuters by phone. “Those who refused to go to refugee camps were chased … and stripped of their possessions.”

Rwanda has taken in tens of thousands of Burundians since April 2015, when political violence erupted in Burundi. So far, nearly 260,000 people have fled Burundi’s civil war, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR).


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