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Thursday, September 3, 2015


Conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa
are preventing more than 13 million children from
attending school, leaving their hopes and futures
shattered, the United Nations Children's Fund said
in a report issued today.
The Unicef report "Education Under Fire" looked at
the impact of violence on schoolchildren in nine
territories, including Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya
where a generation is growing up outside of the
education system.
"It's no coincidence in that what we see in terms of
our TV pictures, the tragic pictures of people
crossing on boats to Greece and Italy, very much
comes back to the Syrian conflict and (to) the Iraqi
conflict to a lesser extent," Unicef regional director
Peter Salama said.
Refugees often say the education of their children
is their top priority, he said, and many countries in
the region simply are not able to provide that basic
human right.
The study also looked at Lebanon, Jordan and
Turkey - countries neighboring Syria and hosting
large numbers of refugees, as well as Sudan and
the Palestinian Territories.
Attacks on schools are one of the main reasons
why many children cannot go to classes while
many such buildings are now being used to shelter
displaced families or are used as bases for
combatants, Unicef said.
In Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya alone, nearly 9 000
schools are unable to be used for education, the
report said.
Thousands of teachers across the region have
abandoned their posts in fear, which has also
stopped parents from sending their children to
school, it added.
Countries hosting refugees are struggling to get
children into schools because their education
systems were never created to absorb such
numbers, Salama said.
"Everyone is basically straining at the seams in
terms in terms of dealing with this massive crisis,
which is not surprising given that it is the biggest
population movement since World War Two," he
Children out of school can end up working illegally,
often being breadwinners for their family. They are
vulnerable to exploitation and can be more easily
recruited into armed groups, he said.
Unicef's research shows children are increasingly
becoming combatants from a younger age, Salama
said, while students and teachers have been killed,
kidnapped and arrested.
"We're on the verge of losing an entire generation
of children in the Middle East and North Africa. We
must step up, otherwise it will be irreversible and
long-term damage we've collectively inflicted upon
the children of this region."

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