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UN: Decade of war deprives over half of Syrian children of education

Children have their school lessons inside a tent in Idlib, Syria on 24 November 2020 [Muhammed Abdullah/Anadolu Agency]
Children have their school lessons inside a tent in Idlib, Syria on 24 November 2020 [Muhammed Abdullah/Anadolu Agency]

Over half of children in Syria remain deprived of an education due to a decade of the ongoing civil war, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has revealed. There are over 2.4 million children out of school, 40 per cent of whom are girls, said UNICEF's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ted Chaiban, and the UN's Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis, Muhannad Hadi.

Their joint statement added that this figure is likely to have risen due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reportedly "exacerbated the disruption" to education in Syria. Another key factor, of course, is the impact of the conflict.

"One in three schools inside Syria can no longer be used because they were destroyed, damaged or are being used for military purposes," explained the UN officials. "The UN is able to confirm nearly 700 attacks on education facilities and personnel in Syria since the verification of grave violations against children began."

READ: Children go back to school in war-torn Syria

Those children who do attend school "often learn in overcrowded classrooms, and in buildings with insufficient water and sanitation facilities, electricity, heating or ventilation." All of this, the statement stressed, contributes to the education system in Syria being "overstretched, underfunded, fragmented and unable to provide safe, equitable and sustained services to millions of children."

UNICEF stated that even as the conflict continues, education remains the beacon for millions of children. "It is a right that should be protected and persevered. We call upon those fighting to refrain from attacks on education facilities and personnel across Syria."

Throughout the war, and particularly during the Syrian regime's offensive on the opposition-held province of Idlib which was halted last year, regime forces and their ally Russia targeted civilian infrastructure including schools. In February last year, 10 schools were bombed in a single day.

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