The $5bn shortfall will impact not only upon Syrian refugees themselves but also on the host communities in which they now live.
New research carried out by Plan International in Lebanon – which hosts close to 1.5 million Syrian refugees – reveals shocking statistics on child marriage and child labour among the Syrian community in particular.
The research took place in the regions of North Lebanon and North Bekaa, where it found that child labour is rife: 42% of Syrian boys aged 15-17 are currently employed.
In the same two regions, the research revealed that 16% of girls aged 15-17 were either engaged to be married or already someone’s wife.
International community must take action
These figures should act as a wake-up call to the international community, says Colin Lee, Regional Programme Director for Plan International in the Middle East.
“The situation for refugee children caught up in the Syrian crisis is desperate. Families are struggling to meet basic needs, forcing them to marry off daughters and send sons out to work. Although this means one less mouth to feed and a little extra money to put food on the table, it is having a devastating impact on the lives of their children.
If the gaping funding gap that this conference has left us with is not closed, we will be unable to reach the millions of people who are most desperately in need of assistance.
“If a girl is married before 18, her life chances are severely diminished. She is far more likely to drop out of school, to become a child mother, to die during pregnancy or childbirth, and to be trapped in a lifetime of poverty. The international community must do more to prevent this. Inaction will sentence millions more children to a similar fate.
“If the gaping funding gap that this conference has left us with is not closed, we will be unable to reach the millions of people who are most desperately in need of assistance. We’re now into the eighth year of this conflict and the international community must not turn its back on the children caught up in this crisis.”
Plan International experts are available for interviews.