May 25, 2019
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UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere's remarks at the "Supporting the future of Syria

UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere's remarks at the "Supporting the future of Syria and the Region" conference

Canada NewsWire

BRUSSELS, March 14, 2019 /CNW/ - "Sitting in the back row, close to the exit. Among the last to speak.

"It is very symbolic.  

"A place all too common for the millions of boys and girls affected by the Syria crisis.

"Their voices need to be heard. Let us not fail them.

"Last and least is however not how the war in Syria continues impacting children. 

"Every year children think it cannot get worse. We think it cannot get worse.

"Every year, we are proven wrong!

"2018- ladies and gentlemen-  has been the most brutal year for children in Syria.

"Every day at least three children, three innocent children, were killed

"This is only what the UN verified. We can assume that the numbers are higher.

"Since 2011, we estimate that:

  • 5 million Syrian Children were born
  • 4 million inside Syria
  • 1 million in refugee hosting countries

"5 million children- colleagues and friends- who have known nothing but the impact of a brutal war on children.

"During the days of dialogue at this conference, once again the interest in education has been flagged as most important.

"UNICEF welcomes the emphasis to prioritize children's education also in today's opening remarks.

"There is no justification for children to be out of school.

"Let me share four simple asks from Syrian girls and boys:

  • A political solution, a constitution with the rights of children at its centre;
  • Continued international solidarity with Syrian children wherever they are, with access to quality education and health services;
  • Continued solidarity with the countries and communities generously hosting Syrian children, an international solidarity that should focus on all vulnerable children in these countries;
  • Political courage and commitment for a group of thousands of children who are born out of or associated with families of extremist groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Tens of thousands of children are concerned, most of them live in North East Syria. By far, the majority of these children- ladies and gentlemen- are under the age of 6 years old.

"They are children, not terrorists.

"These are children, growingly unwanted including in camps such as Al-Hol. Their conditions in the camp are extremely dire.

"On average one child dies every single day in the area including on their way to the camp.

"Nearly 3,000 children are of foreign nationality.  Most of them unwanted in their countries of origin.

"An urgent solution for each of these boys and girls is urgently needed.

"A solution guided by the best interest of the child.

"Let me conclude by thanking our partners for their support to children impacted by the Syria Crisis.

"Partners who continue to provide funding to organisations like UNICEF, who continue to stand with all these vulnerable children.

"Deepest appreciation to the donors who have stepped up their core contributions to UNICEF. It's the core contribution that ensures best our principled humanitarian action and allows us to invest where and how it matters most for children."


UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit


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