What can Indians do for Syrian refugees

"We cannot save Syria's children alone"

Almost 50 million children worldwide have been uprooted, according to the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF in a report published in early September 2016. They left their homeland because of the threat of violence or hunger and because there are no prospects.

Mr Kjørven, a large number of the refugees are currently from Syria. The neighboring states of Syria are under enormous pressure because so many people have sought refuge there. What is UNICEF doing to support these countries and the refugee children living there?

Olav Kjørven: We are very committed to helping Syria's worst-hit neighboring countries, namely Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. In cooperation with local and national authorities, we are doing everything we can to give Syrian children broad access to schooling. There is also a lack of adequate sanitation and water supplies, and we are providing support here too. Another important issue is ensuring adequate vaccination protection. We have to make sure that the children receive adequate medical care.

You will work with government development aid organizations such as GIZ. What benefits do these partnerships offer in general and with GIZ in particular?

We cannot save Syria's children alone. That is why we need to partner with local authorities and NGOs, international NGOs and our bilateral partners. Germany has significantly increased its support for the refugees from Syria, also through UNICEF. This commitment is impressive and makes a huge difference in the lives of many children. Of course, GIZ plays a decisive role in Germany's measures in relation to the Syria conflict. We work with GIZ in many different areas, for example in the refugee camps in Northern Iraq.

UNICEF benefits from GIZ's expertise and experience, and I also believe that our knowledge helps GIZ advance. There is also financial support for special on-site interventions. I have the impression that we work very well together. But I believe that we can get even better if we succeed in increasing the effectiveness of the cooperation. I am very much looking forward to the next chapter of our cooperation with GIZ.

Syria will remain a challenge. What other challenges do you see for UNICEF in the future?

Sometimes the problems that lie ahead seem huge to us. We see great suffering, climate change, drug trafficking, conflicts fueled by the arms trade, or the consequences of urbanization. But these negative developments are offset by positive trends: people have never had such a long life expectancy, their state of health has never been better, and never before has such a small part of the world's population been affected by extreme poverty. In addition, technology offers opportunities for progress that we would not even have dared to dream of ten years ago. And further opportunities will arise from the new development agenda. If we take these opportunities and do our job as well as possible, we can achieve a lot for the children in the next 15 years.


October 2016