BEIRUT: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) is supporting displaced Syrians in their country as much as it is supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, its supervisor general told Arab News.
During his visit to Lebanon, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah took part in launching UNESCO schools for Syrian refugees. Syria is the second-biggest recipient of KSRelief aid after Yemen, he said.
KSRelief was founded in 2015 on King Salman’s orders to provide relief to the needy outside Saudi Arabia.
Al-Rabeeah said the Kingdom deploys all efforts to support countries in need, especially Arab states, and will continue to do so in Syria as the war there enters its ninth year. He stressed the importance that KSRelief attaches to education projects, saying: “The Kingdom is fully committed to continuing to support the education of Syrian refugees, whether in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey or any other place.”
He added: “We are dedicated to supporting the needy, regardless of their religion or nationality, and our support isn’t limited to countries in conflict but to those suffering from natural disasters too.” Saudi Arabia hosts more than a million Syrian, Yemeni and Rohingya refugees, he said. Addressing Syrian refugees, Al-Rabeeah said: “We feel your pain and the suffering you went through, and this support is the least we can do to help you.”
Accompanied by Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari, Al-Rabeeah toured a UNESCO school for Syrian refugees, talked to students and wished them a safe return to their country. Lebanon hosts some 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including 483,000 aged between 3 and 18. Wassim Chahine, director of the Kayany Foundation, a Lebanese NGO, said: “Thanks to UNESCO and KSRelief, we now have nine middle schools and more than 4,000 students.”
Noura Jumblatt, founder of the foundation, said only 3 percent of Syrians aged between 12 and 18 have access to secondary education.
“We are seeking, through middle schools, to support the most marginalized groups, thus saving a generation of Syrians and re-establishing their will to survive, to return to their country and rebuild it … as a democratic and free Syria,” she added.
Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The Lebanese government wouldn’t have been able to bear the burden of the education of Syrian refugees without the generous support of donors and international organizations, KSRelief in particular.”
Dr. Hamed Al-Hammami, head of UNESCO’s regional office in Beirut, stressed the need for host states to focus on providing education for refugees so as to avoid a social and economic crisis, and to enable them to rebuild their country and prevent them from being radicalized.
Philippe Lazzarini, UN special coordinator for Lebanon, said: “Education is not a means to change humans only, but the whole society. The Syrian generation that lived the trauma of the war and fled to Lebanon didn’t get an education, and this isn’t acceptable given its repercussions in the long term.”
He stressed the need for Syrian youths “to escape poverty and destitution,” and urged KSRelief “to increase support now that the Syrian crisis has entered its ninth year, until there’s no one left without education.”