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More than half of children in war-torn Syria deprived of education: UNICEF

A displaced Syrian boy carries on his back a bag full of trash at a landfill outside a camp in Kafr Lusin near the border with Turkey in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, on January 29, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The UN Children's Agency says more than half of Syrian children in the war-ravaged Arab country are missing out on education, as almost a third of schools have either fallen down or been commandeered by militant factions.

“After almost ten years of war in Syria, more than half of children continue to be deprived of education,” UNICEF said in a statement on Sunday, estimating there are more than 2.4 million children out of school inside the Arab country.

The new figures showed an alarming sharp rise from previous estimates when the UN agency said a third of Syrian schoolgoers were deprived of education.

“This number has likely increased in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the disruption to education in Syria,” warned Ted Chaiban, UNICEF's chief for the Middle East and North Africa, in a joint statement with Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis Muhannad Hadi.

Chaiban further said that the Arab country’s educational system is currently “overstretched, underfunded, fragmented and unable to provide safe, equitable and sustained services to millions of children.”

Foreign-backed militancy and Takfiri terrorism broke out in Syria in 2011. Terrorists, particularly those of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups, seized large parts of the country, unleashing waves of destruction and killing in areas under their control.

However, the Syrian Arab Army and their allied fighters managed to retake most of the terrorists-held regions after fierce fighting.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians lost their lives so far and more than half of Syria's pre-war population of 20 million has 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 UNICEF's statement further said.

According to the UN agency, the remaining operative schools are often overcrowded and located in “buildings with insufficient water and sanitation facilities, electricity, heating or ventilation.”

The agency also said that it confirmed 52 attacks against education facilities in 2020, bringing to some 700 the number of UN-confirmed violations against schools and teaching staff.

In March last year, UNICEF had said that two in five schools in Syria could not be used because they were destroyed, damaged, sheltering displaced families or being used for military purposes.

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