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Syria's war destroyed future of entire generation, says charity

[Ahmad Baroudi/Save the Children]

Date of publication: 20 September, 2015

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The war has destroyed Syria's education system with the future of an entire generation being 'ripped away' global charity Save the Children warned this week.

Like much of the rest of the world, a new school year began in Syria this week, but the only difference here is that over two million children were unable to attend as a conflict continues to rage their country.

Over the past four years, there have been more than 4,000 attacks on schools inside Syria, the international organisation Save the Children has found.

In 2014 alone, 160 children were killed in attacks on schools in Syria.

     When parents don’t even know if their children will come home from school alive, it’s no wonder that so many families are fleeing to Europe
- Martha Myers, Save the Children

"The blatant targeting of innocent children and schools is a devastating blow for any chance of peace and prosperity in the region," Martha Myers, Save the Children’s Country Director in Syria said.

"When parents don’t even know if their children will come home from school alive, it’s no wonder that so many families are fleeing to Europe," Myers added.

According to UNICEF, more than 5.6 million children remain trapped inside Syria in dire situations of displacement and poverty. Between 2.1 and 2.4 million children in Syria are now either out of school or attending classes irregularly.

Staggering figures

Over five million children remain trapped inside Syria
[Ahmad Baroudi/Save the Children]

More than half of all attacks on schools worldwide in the last four years have occurred in Syria, with a staggering 51 recorded attacks on schools supported by Save the Children in the past eighteen months alone.

Schools inside Syria have been indiscriminately bombed, destroyed, commandeered by armed groups, or turned into weapons caches or torture centres, Save the Children's study, Education under Attack, revealed.

"Two months ago we were at school and just leaving the classroom to go to the schoolyard when a bomb fell on the playground," 14-year-old Lina from northern Syria said.

"I heard a big bang and the whole place was full of dust, children were screaming and crying, even teachers were screaming. I was still in the corridor and I ran outside with the rest of the kids, and I saw children in the yard covered with dust and blood.

"Many children were injured that day and five of them died. I still can’t forget the scene of the yard with children on the ground covered in blood. I see them in my dreams when I sleep and I wake up crying," Lina said.

'Future ripped away'

Only 17% of children displaced within Syria are now in school
[Ahmad Baroudi/Save the Children]

"An entire generation of children are having their future ripped away from them," Myers explained. 

Before the conflict, which erupted in 2011, school enrolment rates were among one of the highest in the world.

They have since fallen dramatically, with only 17 percent of children displaced within Syria now in school and enrolment rates as low as six percent in some of the areas worst hit by relentless fighting and indiscriminate airstrikes. 

In May 2015, local authorities in Aleppo closed all the city’s schools due to increased airstrikes, preventing thousands of children from sitting their end of year exams.

Some schools in Aleppo have had to move classrooms underground into basements to try and keep children
safe, Save the Children revealed.

This situation is damaging not only to these children’s future prospects, but also to peace, stability and prosperity in the region, Save the Children said, adding that many of the three million Syrian children out of school may never complete their education.

"There is a real prospect of a lost generation of Syrian children, facing a future of limited opportunity. When schools are safe from attacks and other threats, they can provide an important sense of normalcy that is crucial to a child’s development and wellbeing, and can also help provide important safety information and services," the global children's organisation stated.

Ten-year-old Dalida has been displaced for three years now.

She has experienced shelling, invasion and displacement, and has even been trapped by bombardment for hours before she was able to escape with her family.

"I was in the second grade at school when the war started in my village. Houses were bombed over many days and then armed men entered the village with tanks and big guns. Everyone was running away from the village because they were shooting at everyone," she said.

But she remains strong-willed.

"My favourite cartoon is Les Misérables," she said. "I love Cosette very much because she had many problems yet she was always smiling and she never gave up.

"I also will never give up; this war will be over and we will go back to our home. I will become a doctor and I will help my family to re-build our home, and help others come back to their homes," she adds.

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