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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra meets with refugee children

By JT - Sep 13,2017 - Last updated at Sep 13,2017

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra holds Suleiman, who has several medical complications but his parents cannot afford treatment, during a visit to his home in Amman, on Sunday (Photo courtesy of UNICEF)

AMMAN — UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador  Priyanka Chopra wrapped up a two-day visit to Jordan this week, where  she met with Syrian children, young people and their families,  whose lives have been greatly affected by the conflict, a statement from the UN agency said.

“These are people whose lives have been in a constant state of uncertainty for seven years now with no immediate solution in sight. And in the middle of this, for no fault of their own, is an entire generation of children who are being shaped by violence and displacement, resulting in an astonishing lack of education and opportunity,” Chopra was quoted in the statement as saying. 

On the first day, Chopra visited a UNICEF-supported Makani (“My Space” in Arabic) centre in a host community in Amman where she met nine-year-old Wardshan and her eight–year-old sister Ayat. Both of them had recently started school again after a gap of two years due to the family not having proper documentation. 

With thousands of Syrian children out of school, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF are mobilising Makani centres across the country to help girls and boys enroll back in school, in addition to providing learning support, psychosocial care and life skills training, the statement said. 

“Without education a whole generation of children could grow up without the knowledge and skills needed to support themselves, contribute to their communities and ultimately rebuild Syria once this crisis is over,” said Chopra. 

Chopra visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp on the second day, meeting girls at a UNICEF-supported school and two Makani centres that provide psychosocial support services to both young boys involved in child labour and young girls who are survivors of child marriage. 

There are currently about 21,000 children enrolled in the 14 school complexes in Zaatari. Although there are seats available for every child in the camp, the enrollment is about 73 per cent due to child marriages and child labour.

With a population of around 80,000, Za’atari is one of the largest Syrian refugee camps in the world, and is considered the fourth largest city in Jordan.

 Families live in caravans in a harsh desert area with freezing temperatures in the winter and extreme heat in the summer, according to the statement. 

UNICEF and partners are providing life-saving support through vaccinations, medicines, clean water, sanitation, and opportunities for children and youth to get an education and learn skills for their future.  

 “We are grateful for global champions like Priyanka Chopra’s commitment in helping us amplify the voices and dreams of millions of Syrian children and youth, who, despite the protracted crisis, remain incredibly resilient and hopeful for a better future,” UNICEF Representative Robert Jenkins said in the statement. 

The Syrian refugee crisis remains the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. Now in its seventh year, over 8 million children inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, including Jordan, need humanitarian assistance. 

Jordan is today the second largest refugee-hosting country in the world when compared to the size of its population. The humanitarian crisis has placed additional pressure on Jordan’s scarce resources and is straining national institutions responsible for delivering social services.  

 

UNICEF is working with partners to provide them with access to clean water, health and nutrition, as well as the education and protection that will help them to grow and thrive, the statement read. 

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