UN envoy appeals for Syrian refugee education in Lebanon

Syrian children play at a refugee camp on the outskirts of the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek on February 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/) (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Gordon Brown, UN special envoy for education, launched an international appeal Wednesday to close a funding gap and pay for the education of 500,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

The former British prime minister said the money would help fund an agreement reached with the Lebanese government allowing Syrians to be taught at the country's schools.

But the initiative still lacks $163 million in funding, Brown said.

He also announced a conference in Washington in April with the Norwegian minister of foreign affairs to discuss education for Syrian refugees and raise the needed money.

Nearly four million Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations and many of the about a million school-aged children have had difficulty accessing consistent education since the country's civil war began in 2011.

Numerous refugee programs in the region have suffered from underfunding or aid that has been slow to arrive.

Brown also drew attention to a UN program in Nigeria to improve safety in schools targeted by Boko Haram and hailed a similar initiative for Pakistan schools targeted by terrorists. The protection may soon be rolled out in South Sudan, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He also called for increased humanitarian funding for education in emergency situations and for countries to sign a safe school declaration to shield them from military use or attack.

"There have been more than 10,000 attacks on schools during the past five years," Brown said.

"Terror attacks on schools around the world have risen to higher levels than at any point in 40 years."