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Ukraine Anniversary: Children Believe Petitions Canadian Government to Keep Global Education Promises

  • Education for 450 million children in conflict zones continues to come under attack
  • Agency urges ongoing Canadian support to protect and educate the most vulnerable children1


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MARKHAM, Ontario – February 23, 2023 – To mark the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine war on Feb. 24, humanitarian and development organization Children Believe is urging the Government of Canada and all Canadians to continue to help address the pressing needs of Ukrainian children forced from their homes and the estimated 450 million children living in conflict around the world.

The agency - a Canadian charity that has helped more than one million children globally to overcome barriers to education since 1960 - warns that more than 17 million Ukrainian people require humanitarian assistance, including child protection and educational support are critically needed for the five million2 children whose education has been disrupted.

“During the day there is no electricity for 15 hours, it is dark and cold,” says David, 11, who was forcibly displaced from his home in Ukraine. “It has become almost impossible for us to attend school online.”  

The Ukraine war is a clear example of a much larger, global crisis of approximately 450 million children living in conflict zones3 – a crisis that severely impacts the development of future generations, according to Children Believe. The agency has supported local relief partners on the ground in conflict zones in Ukraine, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso to improve the lives of children by providing access to safe, quality education.

Children Believe is calling on the Government of Canada to signal its ongoing commitment to global education and building on the Charlevoix Initiative in advance of finalizing the 2023 Federal Budget. The charity is also urging Canadians to sign this petition to demand the government keeps its promise to invest in international development assistance every year, until at least 10% of its bilateral assistance is dedicated to global education.

“For children in conflict zones, their entire lives may be spent living in crisis and uncertainty, compounding the learning losses due to the pandemic with ongoing risk of violence and exploitation of their basic human rights,” says Fred Witteveen, CEO of Children Believe. “We are urging Canadians and the government to help Children Believe and our partners to continue to prioritize access to education for these vulnerable boys and girls so they too can ‘dream fearlessly’ and become catalysts for success.”

Education: Caught in the Line of Fire

As of 2022, there were an estimated 222 million school-aged children impacted by crises, including armed conflict, requiring educational support4. Keeping dreams alive for thousands of these children is crucial.

At the end of 2021, more than 450 million children – or one in six – were living in a conflict zone, the highest number in 20 years; and a record 36.5 million children were displaced from their homes as a result of conflict, violence and other crises3. The destruction of schools, widespread blackouts affecting infrastructure, and arrival of winter leave access to learning hopeless for many.

Staggering findings from the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack revealed that over 5,000 reported attacks on education and cases of military use of schools and universities that in 2020 and 2021, with 9,000 students and educators abducted, arbitrarily arrested, injured, or killed in these events5.

There is Hope: Act for Education

Children Believe is a member of ChildFund Alliance, a global network of 11 child-focused development and humanitarian organizations. Members such as Children Believe have contributed funds, enabling Alliance member, ChildFund Germany, to deliver support on the ground in Ukraine together with WeWorld. To date, 60,000 people affected by the Ukraine crisis, half of whom are children, have received aid from their efforts. Canadian donations have directly supported children and their families by providing food, shelter, medications, basic needs and access to education and psychosocial services. Details of relief activities and ongoing progress is discussed in the organizations’ new Ukraine Crisis: One year of Conflict report.

Children in some of the most volatile regions of the world are in need of education, but the support to give them the tools to dream fearlessly may be closer than you think. Funding for global education pledged at the G7 Summit in 2018 has ended, which threatens the dreams of millions of schoolchildren around the world. Canadians can sign a new online petition and join Children Believe in demanding that the federal government keep its promise to increase international development assistance every year and that at least 10% of its bilateral assistance is dedicated to global education in the upcoming 2023 Budget. Canadians can sign the petition and find out more information here.

About Children Believe

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in – and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education – inside and outside of classrooms – is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world. Learn more: www.childrenbelieve.ca

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