More than two million Syrian children will not able to return to school this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said today.
“There are 5,000 schools across the country that cannot be used because they have been destroyed, damaged, converted to shelter displaced families or for military use,” UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told a press conference in Geneva.
According to UNICEF, another 400,000 children are at risk of dropping out as a result of conflict and displacement.
“The crisis continues to wipe out years of achievements in education. Some children in Syria have never been inside a classroom, while others lost up to four years of their schooling,” Boulierac added.
The conflict began in early 2011 when the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad responded with unexpected ferocity to popular protests that erupted as part of the Arab Spring.
More than four years of intense fighting has left the country divided between pro-Assad forces and a number of heavily armed opposition factions, which are often at odds among themselves.
Roughly half of the country’s population has been displaced by the violence, with over four million Syrians now seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.