There are a mammoth number of refugee crises from different parts of the world, many of which go unnoticed. The reason behind the migration of people varies. Some migrations are due to climate change and flash floods, while some are manmade, like the Syrian refugee crisis.
The figures for the number of people displaced every year are shocking and unpalatable. More than 13 million people have been displaced or refugees from Syria to date. Among these, 5.8 million are children living as refugees.
1. The Number of Syrian Child Refugees
As per the data by UNICEF released in September 2021, there are around 11.8 million child refugees worldwide, excluding another 1.3 million that seek asylum and another 20.4 million internally displaced children due to violence and conflict. Another 2.9 million children are internally displaced due to other factors like climate change and natural disasters.
As per UNICEF’s Syrian Refugees Appeal data, 5.8 million Syrian refugee children need help. Of this, only 2.7 million Syrian children are registered refugees and currently live in different parts of the world like Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, etc.
These statistics make the situation alarming in itself. Nearly 2.5 million Syrian refugee children are out of school. There are around 7 million Syrian people that are internally displaced. The Covid-19 pandemic has made these figures even worse.
Even after 11 years of the Syrian crisis, Syrian children are suffering the most. They are not only robbed of their peaceful childhood life but are also deprived of their right to education due to various reasons.
2. Refugee And Displaced Syrian Children Education Crisis
According to Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, education is a human right. The International Convent on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights states that every person is entitled to free education at the elementary level.
However, the refugee children of Syria are denied this basic human right. The hardships the children have to witness from a very early age are beyond what we can imagine. Every second individual among the number of refugees is a child. At the same time, they may be unable to access education due to the impact of the Syrian conflict on the availability of schools.
According to a recent study on refugee children and education, around 90% of the uneducated adolescents on the Central Mediterranean route to Europe experienced more exploitation than children with primary and secondary education.
Similarly, among children refugees moving on the Eastern Mediterranean route, 23% of the children with no education faced more exploitation than 20% of children with primary education and 14% with secondary education.
Moreover, refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than other children.
- Only 50% of refugee children are enrolled in primary schools. 75% of Syrian children drop out of primary school before they are enrolled in secondary school.
- Less than 25% of refugee children are enrolled in secondary schools
The number of unaccompanied minors among refugee children is also a matter of concern. As per the Their World refugee education crisis report in Greece, there are around 5000 unaccompanied minors, of which 92% are male, and 91% are above the age of 14.
The Syrian child refugees are deprived of education due to one or more reasons like poverty, hyperinflation, poor health conditions, discrimination, child marriage, and violence. Disabled children face even more barriers.
Many Syrian refugees flee to neighboring countries like Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon. Without proper certification and documentation, refugees can also seek shelter in host countries and become vulnerable to exploitation, trafficking, violence, and other ill-treatment.
The largest refugee host countries in the world include Turkey (with over 45.6% of children refugees). As compared to the population of the country, Lebanon and Jordan host the largest number of refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2020. UNHCR, 2021.
3. Problems Faced by Syrian Refugee Children Seeking Education
Though the number of refugee children seeking education is low, this is also due to the underlying barriers they have to face like:
- Language and cultural barriers make it difficult for them to gain the correct information.
- The instability of living conditions and arrangements makes it difficult for children to focus and learn.
- Going to a new school in a new environment makes children fall prey to stigmatization, exclusion, and prejudice.
- The school’s system requires proper certification before they can be admitted, especially for attaining secondary-level education. The certificates don’t transfer well across borders.
- Legal barriers also prevent children from being admitted to schools.
4. Way Forward
UNICEF and its partners are taking steps to improve the condition, but much still needs to be done. To rectify the situation at the root level, states and countries that see the influx of more refugees should relax their provisions in providing education to such children. UNICEF’s 2022 humanitarian funding appeal is for $910 million in US dollars for Syrian refugee children.
Financial support to the government, NGOs, and non-profits is essential to provide education for refugee children. In fact, Sunrise-USA is one such organization in the US that is working to educate Syrian children who are displaced or are refugees. You can support them in this vital cause by volunteering for them or making a donation. Every contribution helps the efforts to rebuild schools, provide school supplies, and assist refugee or displaced children to entry into school.