Children continued to be at the centre of events in the Middle East and North Africa. At the peak of lockdowns and closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 110 million children were not able to go to school.
Every country put in place at least one online education platform but many children missed out due to digital poverty. Nearly 40 per cent of children didn’t have access to the internet or electronic devices, UNICEF said.
Too many children lost their lives including increasingly those at sea in search of a better life and future. At least 1,500 people -among them many children- perished in the Central Mediterranean in 2021 alone. Sadly, children continued to be killed in conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Sudan and the State of Palestine. UNICEF marked a whole decade on the crisis in Syria and one year on the Beirut blast amid an absence of accountability or justice to the bereaved families.
As the school year approached, almost all schools across the region reopened and more teachers were getting the vaccine. Schools reopening is absolutely critical for children to overcome the education losses that COVID and conflict continue to inflict on them.
On 20 November, UNICEF celebrated World Children’s Day. Against all odds, children joined one of its ambassadors, the renowned singer Yara to launch a children’s song “We want to live.”