Nearly 75 million school-aged children living in crisis areas around the world are in desperate need of educational support, Unicef said Wednesday. According to its report, one in four children between the ages of 3 and 18 live in countries affected by crises such as wars and disasters.
Conflicts in Syria and Eastern Ukraine have heavily affected the education system, mostly as schools were destroyed or damaged in attacks and airstrikes. Five years of civil war in Syria has left 6,000 schools out of use, while in Eastern Ukraine, one in five schools have been damaged, the report said. The latest Unicef report comes ahead of the launch of a major new fund to help children in need of education in emergencies.
"During crises, children are particularly at risk of missing out on their education, yet schools provide a safe space and a vital routine for children during times of major upheaval," the report said. "Education gives children the building blocks to rebuild their lives and, eventually, their country."
Unicef said in its report that refugees fleeing worn-torn countries are five times more likely to be out of school. During times of conflict, girls are 2.5 times more likely to drop out of school than boys.
Unicef unveiled its new emergency education fund, called Education Cannot Wait, which is expected to be launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23 and 24 May.
The fund aims to raise nearly $4 billion over five years to reach 13.6 million and 75 million by 2030.
"It is time education is prioritized by the international community as an essential part of basic humanitarian response, alongside water, food and shelter," Josephine Bourne, Unicef's education chief, in a statement.