AU Donates $20 Million to Syrian Refugee Children

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By Athena Yenko | April 22, 2014 1:43 PM EST

On April 21, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced that Australia will provide $20 million to Syrian refugee children in the wake of the Syrian crisis.

"Today I am announcing that Australia will provide $20 million for children in Lebanon and Jordan who have fled across borders as refugees due to the Syrian crisis. Today's announcement will help relieve the burden on neighbouring communities sheltering Syrian refugees in this time of crisis," Ms Bishop said in a statement.

The United Nations' 'No Lost Generation' will be the beneficiary to the funding as the organisation leads effort of improving the children refugees' education. No Lost Generation also addressed the violence and displacement that these children were exposed to.

According to the latest data, 50 per cent of the recorded 2.7 million Syrian refugees were children who were also denied their rights to proper education.

"Children are the most affected of the fighting - an entire generation is being shaped by fear and violence and, often, without an education. Australia will coordinate its efforts with other nations to ensure these children can be supported in the region so that they can return to their homes in Syria when the crisis has stabilized," Ms Bishop said.

Australia will also provide $9 million to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), $9 million to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and $2 million to Save the Children Australia.

According to the United Nations, the Syrian conflict is the greatest humanitarian, peace and security crisis facing the world today with an estimated 9.3 million people affected.

Meanwhile, Reuters report that a toxic chemical was used to attack Syria recently. The chemical was suspected to be chlorine and the United States is already looking into the possibility that the Syrian government is to be held responsible for the attack.

"We have indications of the use of a toxic industrial chemical. We are examining allegations that the government was responsible," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during a press conference.

According to some reports, people witnessed helicopters dropping chlorine gas on Kfar Zeita on April 11 and 12.

"We take all allegations of the use of chemicals in combat use very seriously. We'll work with the OPCW, who is obviously overseeing the implementation, and determine if any violation occurred," Ms Psaki added.

The alleged chlorine attack reawakened the call for President Barack Obama to administer more support for the Syrian rebels.

"The Assad regime continues to carry out war crimes in its slaughter of innocent men, women, and children. Its breach of the chemical weapons agreement should surprise no one, and unless the Obama administration is willing to force a price for such behavior, we should only expect more atrocities to come," Republican U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona told Reuters.

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