The high-wattage human rights activist couple is helping displaced Syrian kids get back to school.
A strikingly effective defender of neglected and exploited groups around the world, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her husband, actor George Clooney, are stepping up to make sure all the world’s children get the opportunities they deserve. The couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice announced a $2.25 million partnership with UNICEF, which includes a generous donation from Google.org and an additional $1 million technology grant from HP Inc. The partnership will fund seven schools in Lebanon to help 3,000 currently out-of-school Syrian refugee children get back on track.
“Thousands of young Syrian refugees are at risk — the risk of never being a productive part of society,” Amal and George Clooney said. “Formal education can change that. That’s our goal with this initiative. We don’t want to lose an entire generation because they had the bad luck of being born in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The devastating six-year Syrian civil war has affected 80% of the country’s children. More than 5 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Lebanon, which has the world’s highest per capita refugee population, has been particularly affected by an influx of more than 1 million displaced Syrians. Schools are overflowing beyond capacity and students must attend in staggered shifts.
“How can children become the workers and leaders of their countries someday if they have not had the education and support they need to reach their full potential?” asked UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “By supporting the work of UNICEF and our partners to deliver education to every child affected by the conflict in Syria, the Clooney Foundation for Justice is not only investing in the futures of individual children, it is investing in the future of the entire region. UNICEF is deeply grateful for this critical funding.”
Seeking justice for those in need is familiar territory for the Clooneys. A former refugee herself, Amal Clooney was only 2 years old when civil war forced her family to flee Lebanon. They eventually settled in England. In 2016, she represented victims of the Yazidi genocide in the International Criminal Court, the world’s permanent human rights court in The Hague. Her lead witness, Nadia Murad, is one of the thousands of Yazidi women abducted and brutally abused by ISIS fighters in Iraq.
Murad and Clooney addressed the United Nations together in September, 2016, demanding that the Islamic State be held accountable for their crimes against the Yazidis. “I am ashamed, as a lawyer, that there is no justice being done and barely a complaint being made about it,” Clooney told U.N. members. “I am ashamed, as a woman, that girls like Nadia can have their bodies sold and used as battlefields.”
“Holding back women is holding back half of every country in the world,” Clooney said. The Clooneys’ partnership with UNICEF marks the latest chapter in their dedicated effort to ensure the rights of women and children everywhere.
Source UNICEF USA