More than 13 million children are being denied an education due to conflicts in the Middle East, the UN has said, warning “the hopes of a generation” would be dashed if they cannot return to classrooms.
In a report on the impact of conflict on education in six countries and territories across the region, the UN’s children fund UNICEF on Thursday said more than 8,850 schools were no longer usable due to violence
It detailed cases of students and teachers coming under direct fire, classrooms used as makeshift bomb shelters and children having to cross active front-lines just to take their exams.
“The destructive impact of conflict is being felt by children right across the region,” Peter Salama, regional director for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa, told AFP news agency.
“It’s not just the physical damage being done to schools, but the despair felt by a generation of schoolchildren who see their hopes and futures shattered.”
Last year alone, UNICEF documented 214 attacks on schools in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Palestinian territories, Sudan, and Yemen.
In Syria, it said education was paying a “massive price” after four-and-a-half years of conflict.
One in four schools have been closed since the conflict erupted, causing more than two million children to drop out and putting close to half a million in danger of losing their schooling.
In addition, more than 52,000 teachers have left their posts, saddling the country’s crumbling education system with an acute skills shortage.
“Even those Syrian teachers who have ended up as refugees in other countries have faced obstacles which prevent them from working,” the report said.
‘School no longer safe’
UNICEF said one of the worst direct attacks on a school in the region came in Yemen, where 13 staff and four children were killed in an assault on a teachers’ office in the western city of Amran.
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