The Hands Up for Syria Appeal, which ended on 9 May, has raised £3,997,928 from generous donors. Together with matching funding from the Saïd and Asfari Foundations, which had pledged to match donations pound for pound, the £7,995,856 raised will give thousands of Syrian displaced and refugee children and young people in Syria and the neighbouring countries access to pre-schools, schools, teachers, books, pens and other learning materials, vocational training and university scholarships.
The Foundations’ initiative, the Hands Up for Syria Appeal, set out to raise money in response to the millions of children and young people from Syria that are out of education within Syria and in the surrounding countries. While the Foundations have been involved in supporting Syrian refugees since the start of the crisis in Syria in 2011, often focusing on education, they wanted to encourage other donors also to recognise that education is a critical need, not an optional extra – critical both for Syria’s children now and for Syria’s future.
The total raised was revealed at an event on 9 May 2016 for the Appeal’s donors. Speakers at the event included the British Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP; the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband; and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador, actor Cate Blanchett. HRH the Prince of Wales sent a video message of congratulations and support in which he also stressed how important education was to the rebuilding of Syria.
British Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett and President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband and Ayman Asfari addressing guests at the Hands Up for Syria event.
The money raised was collected on behalf of the two Foundations by the Hands Up Foundation, an innovative British charity set up by young British volunteers with a strong record of fundraising for, and raising awareness of, the Syria crisis. The funds raised will be divided equally between three organisations working on the ground: the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Save the Children. All have long term, global experience in delivering educational programmes for refugee and internally displaced children. Between them, they cover the full spectrum of educational needs, both formal and informal, and from early childhood to university, often delivered in close partnership with organisations based in the region.
Wafic Saïd addressing guests at the Hands Up for Syria event
The Chairmen of the Foundations, Ayman Asfari and Wafic Saïd, said:
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our donors. We know that our beneficiary organisations will use this generosity to transform the lives of thousands of children. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting the determination of Syria’s young people to rebuild their lives through education.”
Prime Minister Cameron said:
“As a result of the brutal conflicts in Syria, Syria’s children have lost their right to an education; currently nearly 3 million of them are not in school.
“The international community must come together to deliver an education for Syria’s victims and help this lost generation find a future.
“We’ve already achieved a great deal in providing education opportunities for Syrian refugee children, with 250,000 Syrians now back in the classroom in Lebanon and nearly every Syrian child in Jordan in school.
“But I want us to do more, and that’s what I’m urging everyone to commit to today.”
David Miliband said:
"The generosity of the Saïd and Asfari Foundations, and of all of those who have supported the Hands up for Syria Appeal, will enable the International Rescue Committee, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Save the Children to make a sustainable difference for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children currently out of school. With these funds we will help young kids to overcome the trauma of war, enable them to get an education and have their hopes of graduation and careers restored, and support scores of Syrian refugees to complete degrees at universities in Lebanon and Jordan. On behalf of the many people we will be able to help, I say a heartfelt thank you.”
Speaking of her recent meetings with Syrian refugee families in Jordan, Cate Blanchett said:
“When I asked parents what hopes they held for the future, their message was clear: for their children to have an education, not just primary education but secondary and on to tertiary. …We cannot allow a whole generation to be lost; uneducated, disenfranchised, alienated. For how will Syria ultimately rebuild without engineers, doctors, teachers, accountants, without journalists, artists… The funds raised by the Appeal are protecting that vital right to education, giving Syrian refugee children a future, giving Syria a future.”
The costs of the Appeal were met by the two Chairmen personally.
Watch the Appeal film