1 in 3 Syrian schools shut as fighting rages: Unicef

Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS) With 33 per cent of Syrian schools unable to function and 1.7 million children currently out of school, the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) on Friday warned that another 1.3 million students may be forced to drop out amid violence and reigning insecurity.

“In Syria, children are risking death to go to school. In the past two weeks, nine school children, aged as young as five, lost their lives in two separate attacks on or near schools,” Xinhua news agency quoted Unicef official Hanaa Singer as saying in a statement.

“School should not be a death trap. It should be a place where children are protected and able to learn, grow, and develop their skills,” she said.

According to Unicef, more than 4,000 attacks on schools have been documented since violence kicked off in March 2011.

Since then, around 151,000 teachers have left the education system because of the conflict, Unicef spokesman Christophe Boulierac said.

Together with forced displacements, poverty and a strained education system, fighting between warring factions continues to hamper access to schools for too many Syrian children, Unicef said.

“We urge all parties to the conflict to protect children, schools and all civilians in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Singer said.