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Charity Save the Children urges global commitment for child refugees -

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TONY EASTLEY: More than one in five school aged refugee children in Greece have never been in a classroom, according to a report by Save the Children.

The aid agency is calling for a greater international commitment to ensure child refugees get to go to school.

Johanna Nicholson spoke to Save the Children CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT: We have basically asked refugee children what they want them most.

We have asked 9,000 children what's highest on their wish list and their answer is very clear, what they want is education.

We have more than 7 million children refugees in the world today, and half of those 7 million have not got access to education.

What we will see if we don't educate these children is basically that we're losing a whole generation.

JOHANNA NICHOLSON: What impact will this lack of education have globally?

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT: Well I don't want to paint a very black picture but I think everyone can understand that a child that gets educated and has a future is less likely to go into any form of extremism, perhaps terrorism, and go into a criminal future.

But also in the everyday life of a child, we know that a child that is educated is less likely to marry early, to get sexually abused, to get abducted.

So in a way, education is an enabler for children not only in terms of what they learn but also how they are going at living their lives and the opportunities they have in their lives.

JOHANNA NICHOLSON: What's being done to get these children back to school?

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT: There's a momentum right now. I think everyone realises if we don't send refugee children to school, we will have a lot of problems building up ahead of us.

So one of the things that's happening right now is there's a fund being created called Educating Cannot Wait and we are asking governments to contribute to this fund, which is specifically targeted towards refugee children.

We are also asking major companies, foundations, to come on board and help fund this, because without direct funding for children in refugee situations, I don't think we can move ahead.

So the good news is that there is a plan.

JOHANNA NICHOLSON: Is this not something that should be addressed by the countries that these children are living in as refugees?

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT: Yes of course, countries have to take responsibility for this.

Just this morning I spoke to the minister for education from Lebanon and in Lebanon they're struggling to find the teachers to help them educate all these children, and of course, they're struggling with the funding.

So we can't demand of a small country like Lebanon that they do all this without helping them with the funding.

And the good news is that we are collecting the funding but it's far from enough and we are hoping this new fund will be the trigger to create new funding for refugee children.

TONY EASTLEY: Helle Thorning-Schmidt speaking with Johanna Nicholson.