Syria in Brief - UNESCO Response

© UNESCO / Professor Maamoun Abdul Karim, Aleppo

The Syrian conflict started in March 2011, and has generated the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in recent years.

The situation in the country and the conditions for refugees in neighbouring countries continues to deteriorate.

Almost 11 million Syrians now need assistance, and 6.45 million of them are displaced inside their own country and half of the IDPs are children struggling to survive and cope with the crisis. .

In addition, more than 3 million have fled to neighbouring countries, a third of them school-aged children and youth between 5 and 17 years old.

An estimated 3.9 million Syrian children and youth inside Syria and in neighbouring countries are in need of education.

In addition, the country’s cultural heritage is continuously exposed to threats of destruction, looting and illicit traffic. Important sites and monuments have been destroyed or substantially damaged.

UNESCO has been active in responding to this crisis, particularly by assisting Syrian refugees and host communities in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon, and safeguarding Syria’s cultural heritage.

In the field of education, UNESCO’s response is focusing on youth education and empowerment, providing educational opportunities and enhancing quality of teaching and learning both in formal and non-formal settings for young people affected by the crisis in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Priority areas for UNESCO action inside Syria are teacher training in technical and vocational education, accelerated learning programmes, extra-curricular activities, and psycho-social support.

In the field of culture, UNESCO focuses on safeguarding Syria’s rich cultural heritage. Since the onset of the crisis, the Director-General has been strongly advocating in this respect by calling on all parties to the conflict and the Syrian authorities to respect and protect cultural heritage.

Also, neighbouring countries, INTERPOL and institutional partners have been alerted and mobilized to counter the illicit traffic of movable cultural heritage and UNESCO organized a high-level meeting on the Safeguarding of Syria’s Cultural Heritage in August 2013. The participants endorsed UNESCO’s Action Plan for emergency safeguarding measures and post-recovery actions.

In the framework of this Action Plan, UNESCO has launched a three-year “Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Heritage project”, aimed at mitigating the destruction and loss of cultural heritage, preparing post-conflict priority actions, as well as the medium and long term actions, as a means to restore normalcy and social cohesion in Syria.

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