By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) on Friday warned that many children in war-torn Syria are risking their lives to go to school, and expressed fear that more than one million would drop out due to the ongoing violence in the country.
Hanaa Singer, the UNICEF representative in Syria, said in Damascus that the new education data showed that over 1.7 million children remain out of school and another 1.3 million are at a risk of dropping out.
She added that an escalation of violence, as well as increased displacement and poverty are factors forcing Syrian children out of school.
“Since the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, some 4,000 schools in the country have been attacked.
“One in three schools cannot be used because they are either damaged, destroyed, sheltering the internally displaced or being used for military purposes,’’ she said.
The representative said that in the past two weeks, nine schoolchildren, aged as young as five, lost their lives in two separate attacks on or near schools.
She said the organisation is calling on all parties to the Syrian conflict to protect children and schools.
“Going by the UN estimates, more than 600,000 people are currently under siege in Syria.
“The UN figures do not include the opposition eastern section of Aleppo in northern Syria, where as many as 300,000 are currently under siege by the regime,’’ she said.
She said investigation revealed that most of them are in opposition-held enclaves besieged by government forces, though both rebels and the Islamic State extremist group are also blockading government-