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  • 09:06 - 7 September 2013

Syrian conflict preventing Palestinian refugees from going back to school - UN agency

Gaza,(DRAH.ps)-- More than 45,000 children who attend schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency in Syria (UNRWA) will be staying at home when schools reopen this month.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed this adding, “whether because of damage to buildings or because of the overall insecurity, nearly two thirds of our students in Syria will not be able to return to their schools this fall,”

Gunness added that apart from a disruption in their academic programme, there is a loss in continuity in a hostile and dangerous war environment where only 49 of the118 UN agency’s schools would be re-opened in the 2013-2014 year..

The UNRWA said it was working on alternatives, such as setting up broadcasting on its television channel and developing long-distance learning materials.

According to Caroline Pontefract, UNRWA Director of Education, “the situation in Syria is a great challenge, but it has only increased the importance of ensuring that Palestine refugees have access to high-quality and continued education”

Since fighting began in March 2011 between the Syrian Government and opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad as many as 100,000 people have been killed, almost 2 million have fled to neighbouring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced. In addition, at least 6.8 million Syrian require urgent humanitarian assistance, half of whom are children.

Following a visit to the region in July, Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said without a political solution to the conflict in Syria, the country faces “a generation of angry, illiterate adults.”

She said schools in the region are trying to assist Syrian children, but challenges remain stemming from discrepancies in curriculum, capacity and language.

In Lebanon, which hosts around 50,000 Palestine refugees, only about 35 per cent of students are enrolled in school, according to UNRWA figures.



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