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400,000 Syrian Refugee Children in Turkey Aren’t in School After War


Throughout the past five years, the Syrian civil war has generated 4.8 million refugees. Turkey, which shares a long border with Syria, hosts nearly 3 million of them.

The most vulnerable group of these refugees happens to be children, who, if deprived of an education for long periods of time, risk being set up for a life defined by poverty on the margins of society. Although Turkey has seen a 50% surge in school enrollment for Syrians, nearly 40% of the 1.2 million refugee children have yet to be enrolled.

The reasons for this are many — schools may not have enough resources and staff; there may be no accessible school, refugee families may need children to help procure food and income.

Read More: UN Finally Authorizes Investigation of War Crimes in Syria

“Unless more resources are provided, there is still a very real risk of a 'lost generation' of Syrian children, deprived of the skills they will one day need to rebuild their country,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth in a press release.

Turkey also faces a host of domestic problems that limit its ability to deal with the refugee crisis. In the summer of 2016, a failed coup led to a massive purge of civil society and a power grab by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that has destabilized the country. A brutal campaign against the country’s Kurdish minority has divided the population. ISIS-aligned terrorist attacks have rattled cities from Ankara to Istanbul and have made citizens wary of refugees. Then there’s the continuing crisis across the border in Syria.

Amid all this mayhem, the plight of refugees often goes unnoticed. Many families scrape together work on the black market and live in the cramped encampments that have become so synonymous with the current refugee crisis.  

Recently, President Erdogan proposed making it easier for Syrians to get citizenship, which will allow them to find schooling for their children more easily.

Read More: Bana Alabed, 7-Year-Old Tweeting From Aleppo, Will Be Brought to Turkey

"There are highly qualified people among them, there are engineers, lawyers, doctors,” he said. “Let's make use of that talent ... Instead of letting them work illegally here and there, let's give them the chance to work as citizens like the children of this nation."    

With citizenship, refugee families can more easily find schools for their children to attend.

Turkey is not the only country with a massive amount of under-schooled kids. In both Lebanon and Jordan, the countries with the next most Syrian refugees, an absence of schooling is a major problem.

Oftentimes, UNICEF and other NGOs fill in when governments are unable or unwilling to act. UNICEF, in particular, has built or improved nearly 400 schools, trained 20,000 volunteer teacher, and provides grants to families to keep their children in school.

Read More: 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees NOW

Around 75 million children around the world have had their educations disrupted by emergencies. Global Citizen is working with governments around the world so that the necessary funds are raised to end this tragedy.

Each month and year that passes with children deprived of an education deepens the consequences of the Syrian civil war. But each day a child can learn in a classroom is a tiny step toward building a brighter future.