Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are struggling to get an education and many are being pushed into work or early marriage instead, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Monday.
Around 187,000 youngsters – roughly half the school-age Syrian children in the country – are not going to classes, the agency said, as it launched a documentary on their situation.
“Poverty, social exclusion, insecurity and language barriers are preventing Syrian children from getting an education, leaving an entire generation disadvantaged, impoverished and at risk of being pushed into early marriage and child labor,” UNICEF Lebanon Representative Tanya Chapuisat said.
After nearly six years of war, more than half of Syrians have fled their homes, including more than a million to Lebanon. Instead of getting an education, thousands of Syrian children, some as young as six years old, are working in agriculture, factories, construction and on the streets.
One boy featured in the documentary, 14-year-old Jomaa, told UNICEF he had forgotten how to read and write since dropping school and taking up $2-a-day job. Mohamad, aged 11, said he had not been to school since arriving in Lebanon four years ago, and his parents had sent him to work. Abeer, aged 13, said she left Syria six years ago and no longer went to classes because there was no safe transport to take her.
Furthermore, UNICEF has pointed out that there are 23,000 refugee children, most of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who are currently subject to dangerous diseases or even death due to the hard winter in Greece, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Last July, Human Rights Watch said that half a million Syrian refugee children of school age in Lebanon are without school places. It said that more than 150,000 Syrian refugee children went to state schools and 87,000 others went to private schools.
The Syrian Coalition earlier called upon the United Nations and its agencies to meet its international legal obligations regarding the children’s right to education. The UN’s charter emphasizes the right of every person to quality education without discrimination or exclusion.
Host governments need to meet their legal and political obligations to provide education opportunities for the children who were forced to leave their homes because of Assad’s war on the Syrian people, the Coalition stressed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Office + Agencies)