Dublin, 8 January 2015 – At least 68 schools across Syria were attacked in 2014, according to data available to UNICEF. These attacks reportedly killed and wounded hundreds of children. The real numbers are thought to be higher, and there are indications that some attacks may have been deliberate. This week, the continuing conflict has led to the closure of schools in the Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zour governorates as well as parts of rural Aleppo further disrupting the education of 670,000 children of primary and lower high school age.
Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, Peter Power said: “Attacks on schools, teachers and students are further horrific reminders of the terrible price Syria’s children are paying as the crisis approaches its fifth anniversary. Access to education is a right that should be sustained for all children, no matter where they live. Schools are a crucial means of stability, structure and routine that Syrian children need more than ever during this horrific conflict.”
“UNICEF has repeatedly called upon all parties to the conflict to uphold their responsibility to protect children from the conflict – a call we repeat with even greater urgency as a new year begins. Schools should be respected as zones of peace and safe havens for children where they can learn without fear of death or injury.”
The Syrian crisis represents the biggest threat to children of recent times. By the end of 2015, the lives of over 8.6 million children across the region will have been torn apart by violence and forced displacement. That compares to a figure of 7 million just one month ago. Since the outset, and in spite of the enormous security and other challenges posed by a conflict of such scale and brutality, UNICEF and its partners have been delivering essential services to millions of children.
In 2014, UNICEF’s work on education in Syria included:
• Over 2 million children received essential learning materials.
• 317,000 children benefited from non-formal education, including remedial education, peace building, vocational and life skills training.
• 192,000 children received psycho-social support.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.ie
For more information on UNICEF Syria response, visit: http://childrenofsyria.info/