UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1, (Agencies): George and Amal Clooney said on Monday they would help 3,000 Syrian refugee children go to school this year in Lebanon, where the United Nations says 200,000 children are not receiving an education after fleeing the war in neighboring Syria.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice said it has teamed up with Google and HP Inc to help the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the Lebanese Ministry of Education open seven so-called “second shift” schools for Syrian refugee children.
Lebanon has more than 1 million Syrian refugees, including nearly 500,000 children. It is educating Syrian children in public schools through a “second shift” system of additional afternoon classes exclusively for them.
“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,” said Oscar-winning actor George Clooney and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who gave birth to twins last month.
“Thousands of young Syrian refugees are at risk — the risk of never being a productive part of society,” the couple said in a statement. “Formal education can help change that.”
A $3.25 million donation from the Clooney Foundation for Justice, Google and HP will pay for transportation, school supplies, computers, content, curriculum and teacher training.
A spokesman for the Clooneys’ foundation, Max Gleischman, said the organization had decided to support education for Syrian refugees through the public school system, instead of investing in private schools operated by SABIS, an international company which has prepared students for college and high school exams.
The foundation had announced last year that it would work to enroll thousands of children in SABIS schools.
A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war, and Islamic State militants used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Half of Syria’s 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed.
The former star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” has joined a legal effort to have New Jersey’s new bail rules thrown out, claiming the changes are “not working and are causing deaths.”
Duane “Dog” Chapman spoke Monday during a news conference at the federal court building in Trenton, where lawyers announced a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Christian Rodgers.
The 26-year-old Millville man was fatally shot in April while walking on a street in Vineland. The man charged with shooting him had been released from jail following his arrest on a weapons charge a few days before the shooting occurred.
“This hug-a-thon campaign has got to stop,” Chapman said. “It’s killing people, as you can see. What we need now is for people to stand up for your rights, for your lives, for your children and grandchildren’s lives. … Without a deterrent, this is what happens.”
June Rodgers, Christian’s mother, derided Gov Chris Christie and other state officials for praising the bail reforms.
“I keep hearing how they say this has been ‘a success,’” she said through tears. “This was successful at giving me an opportunity to lay across my baby’s casket crying my eyes out.”
The lawsuit’s defendants include Christie and the state’s attorney general, Christopher Porrino. It claims in part that the shooting suspect — Jules Black, 30, of Vineland — wasn’t detained because of bail reforms that went into effect this year and that were championed by the Republican governor.
A Christie spokesman referred a request for comment to the attorney general’s office, which declined to comment.
Black has been charged with murder and weapons charges stemming from Rodgers’ slaying. He remains jailed, and his attorney has maintained his client’s innocence.
Proponents of the reforms say they were enacted as a way to keep violent offenders detained until trial while providing poor, low-level defendants the opportunity to be freed.
But some lawmakers and law enforcement officials say it has led to some people being quickly released because they weren’t deemed a threat and then later rearrested on new charges.
The number of defendants in jail before having a trial was down 20 percent on June 30 compared to Jan. 1, according to data released by the state last week.
Of the nearly 22,000 defendants to appear in state courts in the first half of the year, only 14 percent were sent to jail. The majority got some level of pretrial monitoring, including GPS bracelets and check-ins with court officers.
Judge Glenn Grant, administrative director for the state courts, said the goal of the reforms is to ensure community safety while preventing people who are a low risk to reoffend from remaining locked up only because they can’t afford bail.
He said no system “can absolutely guarantee that nobody will commit an offense while released.”