BEIRUT (AP) — Nearly three million Syrian children are not attending school due to the civil war raging in their homeland, an international charity group said Thursday, as the country's intractable conflict threatens to deny an entire a generation of education.
Syria's civil war has killed more than 190,000 people, forced more than 3 million to seek refuge abroad and displaced another 6 million more inside the country. On Thursday, the World Food Program warned it would reduce its food aid to six million Syrians in October because it was running out of money.
The report by the Britain-based Save the Children shows the devastating impact the conflict, now in its fourth year, has had on education and the future of a generation of young Syrians.
Save the Children said that hundreds of thousands of displaced children are struggling to enroll for school in their host countries and in Syria. Meanwhile, only around half of the country's 1.5 million refugee children are attending school, the report noted, citing a variety of reasons, including prohibitively high school fees and the need for children to work for their families to survive.
Countries like Egypt demand a dizzying array of official papers that most refugee parents do not possess. In Lebanon, there's simply no space in many schools, with the education system overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of child refugees. Around 80 percent of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon don't attend school, according to the report.
Within Syria, the report estimated that 3,465 schools, or one-fifth of the country's educational buildings, were either destroyed or damaged, or are being used for military purposes, the report said.
"It is absolutely shameful that the obligation to protect schools is not being respected in this conflict, endangering the lives of innocent children," said the organization's regional director, Roger Hearn.
The war has also spawned a massive humanitarian crisis.
The World Food Program warned it will be forced to reduce its food aid to six million Syrians in October because it was running out of money.
"If funding levels remain the way they are now, we will be forced to reduce food rations in Syria next month," said WFP spokeswoman Joelle Eid. Syrian refugees in neighboring countries would have their food vouchers reduced or cancelled, she said.
Eid said the WFP needed $352 million to continue its food program for Syrians. Their November and December programs were now also at risk, she said.
Syrian refugees rely on the WFP food vouchers for their food security, often citing it as the lifeline that keeps their children from going hungry. Even with the aid, most Syrian refugees live in poverty.