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New Year in Syria offers little chance of children's education as schools remain targets of conflict

2015-01-06

Geneva/Damascus, January 6, 2014 – Continuing conflict and the recent closure of some schools in Raqqa and Deir-ez-Zour governorates and parts of rural Aleppo in Syria is believed to have disrupted education for 670,000 children of primary and lower high school age, said UNICEF today.

"In addition to lack of school access, attacks on schools, teachers and students are further horrific reminders of the terrible price Syria’s children are paying in a crisis approaching its fifth year," said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF representative in Syria.

“Access to education is a right that should be sustained for all children, no matter where they live or how difficult the circumstances in which they live. Schools are the only means of stability, structure and routine that the Syrian children need more than ever in times of this horrific conflict.”

While there remain conflicting reports on the exact scale of the current school closures, between January and December 2014 alone there were at least 68 attacks on schools across Syria, according to data available to UNICEF. These attacks reportedly killed and wounded hundreds of children. The real numbers are expected to be higher, and there are indications that some attacks may have been deliberate.

“Schools should be respected as zones of peace and safe havens for children where they can learn without fear of death or injury," said Ms. Singer.

"UNICEF has repeatedly called upon all parties to the conflict to uphold their responsibility to protect children, schools, and other civilian infrastructure from the conflict - a call we repeat with even greater urgency as a new year begins with children in Syria still facing the most terrible threats to their safety, well-being and their education."

For more information on UNICEF Syria response, visit: http://childrenofsyria.info/

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About UNICEF

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.