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U.S. Helps Iraqi Refugee Children Return To School

Ellen Sauerbrey, Assistant Secretary
Remarks Upon the Announcement of $30 million Contribution to UNHCR/UNICEF Joint Appeal
Amman, Jordan
August 28, 2007

When traveling in the region this spring, I was alarmed that so many Iraqi children were unable to attend school. This is a major problem for these children and for the future of Iraq. A well-educated Iraqi population will also strengthen the region as these children become the future leaders of Iraq. The U.S. has worked very closely with the government of Jordan, international organizations and NGOs in finding solutions.

The United States believes the response to the needs of displaced Iraqis is best addressed through a multilateral effort, coordinated by organizations capable of operating in all affected countries and attracting resources from a broad range of potential donors. Jordan is a model partner in this international humanitarian effort.

So it gives me great pleasure to be able to announce today that the United States is contributing $30 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Appeal to Provide Educational Opportunities for Iraqi Children in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

I want to take this opportunity to commend the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for its decision to permit all Iraqi children in Jordan access to Jordanian public schools with the opening just last week of the fall semester. Through the joint UNHCR/UNICEF education appeal, Jordan will receive the financial assistance needed to support this commitment to their Iraqi guests.

UNHCR estimates that several hundred thousand school-age Iraqi children now live in neighboring countries. The UNHCR/UNICEF Joint Appeal will help these Iraqi students with the cost of tuition, books, supplies and uniforms. It will also fund teacher recruitment and training, remedial classes, psycho-social services, upgrading of water and sanitation services, the building of new schools or upgrading of existing structures, and advocacy campaigns.

This $30 million contribution is in addition to the more than $150 million the U.S. government has available to assist Iraqi exiles and the internally displaced. This includes USAID’s $10.3 million bilateral health and education support to Jordanian communities affected by growing numbers of Iraqis. And - through the bureau I lead – it includes the State Department’s $13 million contribution to non-governmental organization projects supporting health, education and emergency assistance for Iraqis sheltering in Jordan and other countries in the region. I also want to add that the U.S. Government will contribute $3.7 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent for their appeal on behalf of the Red Crescent societies of Jordan and Syria to help Iraqis in both countries.

We encourage all potential donors to join us in supporting this appeal and commending Jordan for its help on many fronts. I am convinced that educating Iraqi children is one of the most critical ingredients for a peaceful and prosperous Iraq. Thank you.



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