More than half of children in war-torn Syria are missing out on education, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said Sunday, with a third of schools in ruins or commandeered by fighters. The figures are a sharp rise from previous estimates when UNICEF said a third of Syrian children were out of school.
Inside Syria, there are over 2.4 million children out of school; nearly 40 per cent are girls. This number has likely increased in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated the disruption to education in Syria. One in three schools inside Syria can no longer be used because they were destroyed damaged or is being used for military purposes. Children who are able to attend school often learn in overcrowded classrooms and in buildings with insufficient water and sanitation facilities, electricity, heating or ventilation.
“After almost ten years of war in Syria, more than half of children continue to be deprived of education,” UNICEF said in a statement, estimating there are over 2.4 million children out of school inside the country. “This number has likely increased in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the disruption to education in Syria,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF’s chief for the Middle East and North Africa, alongside Syria crisis boss Muhannad Hadi, in a joint statement.
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. Last year, 52 attacks were confirmed. While the war continues, education remains the beacon for millions of children. It is a right that should be protected and persevered.
Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after the violent repression of protests, quickly spiralling into a complex conflict that pulled in numerous actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers. Over 387,000 people have been killed, and more than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 20 million have been forced to flee their homes. “One in three schools inside Syria can no longer be used because they were destroyed, damaged or are being used for military purposes,” the statement added.