Tens of Thousands of Syrian Child Refugees Out of School, Warns Save the Children

Tens of Thousands of Syrian Child Refugees Out of School, Warns Save the Children

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Children play in the corridors of an abandoned school, now being used as a shelter for over 12 Syrian refugee families in North Lebanon. October 25, 2012. Photo Credit: Hedinn Halldorsson.
Children play in the corridors of an abandoned school, now being used as a shelter for over 12 Syrian refugee families in North Lebanon. October 25, 2012. Photo Credit: Hedinn Halldorsson.

WESTPORT, Conn. (November 9, 2012) – Tens of thousands of children escaping the conflict in Syria to neighbouring countries are out of school, a crisis expected to deepen as rising numbers of refugees continue fleeing the country.

More than 40,000 Syrian refugee children are currently unable to go to school in Lebanon and Iraq alone, warns Save the Children. But the real number of children affected is believed to be much larger since this figure does not include refugees that are not registered.

"Demand for education has been skyrocketing across the region with thousands of families desperate to get their children in school as the academic year kicks off. But there simply aren't the schools to host everyone, and nowhere near enough funds for agencies like Save the Children to cover the costs," said Amy Mina, Save the Children's Iraq country director.

"These children have been through so much already and urgently need the stability and structure education can bring, to help them recover and fulfil their potential."

There are currently some 350,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, a figure expected to surpass 700,000 by the end of the year, more than half of them children. Many risk missing the entire school year after going through deeply disturbing experiences, including living under intense shelling without enough food and witnessing the murder of relatives.

Families are listing education as among their most urgent needs, with many parents being unable to send their children to school for up to 18 months. From prior experience, the longer children are out of school the harder it can become for them to return to the classroom, risking a lost generation.

No School at Iraqi Refugee Camp; Existing Schools in Lebanon and Jordan Close to Reaching Capacity

But despite the urgent need for children to get back into class, schools are not always available for refugee children. In Iraq, Save the Children estimates that up to 1,000 children in one refugee camp alone are missing out on even a basic education.

In Lebanon and Jordan, existing schools are close to reaching capacity, while in all three countries, preschool options for the youngest children and informal education opportunities for adolescents remain extremely limited. In Lebanon alone, more than 40,000 children are estimated to be out of school while less than 14,000 have been registered to resume their schooling.

With support from UNICEF in Jordan, Save the Children has helped to register more than 7,000 refugee children in governmental schools. In Lebanon and with support from UNHCR and UNICEF, Save the Children has to date helped to register more than 7,500 children for school and provided them with essential school materials as well as scholarship funds to ensure families do not have to pay school fees they cannot afford. In Iraq, Save the Children is working alongside UNICEF to coordinate school activities with child play areas to ensure that when children are not in school, they still have a safe and supervised area to play.

While these combined efforts represent a major step forward for refugee children, the numbers of requests for registration have already far outstripped both schools' capacity and agencies' funds to provide support, causing Save the Children to call for increased donations.

Save the Children has launched an international emergency appeal of US$31 million for its relief efforts to support refugee children and their families fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria. Funds raised will go towards ensuring families have access to basic health, education and nutrition, and that they are provided with adequate shelter, hygiene and food to stay warm and healthy before the cold winter months approach.

Save the Children will also work to ensure children are kept safe from harm, and are given the support and care they need to begin recovering from their ordeal. Save the Children has been working in the region for nearly 60 years.

Note to Editors:

In Lebanon there are 110,095 Syrians registered and in contact with UNHCR, 51% of them children, bringing the total to an estimated 56,148 children. As of November 1st, the total number of refugees registered for school is only 13,319 according to the Ministry of Education.

In Iraq, Save the Children estimates there are over 2,500 children currently staying in two refugee camps in Al Qaem near the Syrian border. A school has been opened in Camp One but it is only providing schooling to just under 900 children between grades 1 — 9 (roughly 6-14 years old), leaving scores of children in that camp without pre-school or secondary education. There is no schooling available in Camp Two, where up to 1,000 children live.

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in more than 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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