UN: 12 million children out of school in the Middle East

Published April 15th, 2015 - 02:00 GMT
Ongoing, recurring conflict across the Middle East is hindering children's access to education. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)
Ongoing, recurring conflict across the Middle East is hindering children's access to education. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

The United Nations has warned that millions of children in the Middle East region remain out of school mostly due to poverty, discrimination and violence.

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said Wednesday that despite various plans and efforts by Middle Eastern countries to expand education, more than 12 million children are not being educated in the region.

The report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which was also contributed to by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria have forced three million children out of school. According to the report, the drop-out rate in the region had been declining “often by as much as half,” but the new wave of violence and bloodshed in those countries has caused the progress to stall.

Those not attending school include 4.3 million primary-aged children and 2.9 million lower secondary-aged children. An additional 5.1 million children are deprived of pre-primary school education, which brings the total number to around 12.3 million. That roughly represents 15 percent of the entire child population in the Middle East.

Yemen is one of the countries hit worst, says the report, with only six percent of children receiving pre-primary education. This is while the ongoing military aggression by Saudi Arabia on Yemen has displaced hundreds of thousands of people which could further increase the number of drop-outs in the Arab country.

Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, without a UN mandate, in a bid to restore power to the president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating. Many international aid organizations have sought clearances to dispatch medical and other humanitarian supplies by air and sea to civilians in need.

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