Children on front line of conflict as multiple schools in North-West Syria bombed
Save the Children says schools are being destroyed in Aleppo and children are being caught up in the violent struggle.
Attacks on schools are increasing across Idlib and Aleppo in north-west Syria, as airstrikes and ground fighting intensify.
In just one week, six schools run by Save the Children partners in the area have been hit directly or affected by bombing in the area. Four suffered damage to the school building and in three of the incidents, there were casualties among children or staff.
Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Director, says children are being caught up in a violent struggle that threatens their future and their lives: “Children in many parts of Syria take huge risks to continue their education – studying in basements for protection from airstrikes, dodging sniper fire to get to class and crossing dangerous checkpoints to take their exams.”
In one incident, a girl was killed by a barrel bomb a few hundred metres from a school in Idlib governorate. In another, a guard was seriously injured when shells fell in the school grounds while children were in class, and in yet another staff reported that a barrel bomb directly hit a school building, destroying the upper floors.
An aid worker with Violet, one of the Syrian partner organisations running schools in North West Syria said: “Drones, helicopters and fighter jets fly over the area all day – children are scared all the time and their parents are afraid to send them to schools because the jets hit most of the surrounding areas.”
The threat to education is happening at a time when children in Aleppo are running desperately short of water, food and medicine. Hospitals, ambulances and other civilian infrastructure also continue to come under attack, with seven attacks on health facilities in Aleppo governorate reported in just four days from 4th – 7th August.
Sonia Khush said: "Syrian teachers have shown incredible bravery, with many staying behind or setting up informal schools to keep educating children. Despite their best efforts, more than two million children in Syria are out of school. Every week, we see schools and routes to school taken by children bombed with impunity. Even in a conflict, children have a right to learn and play without the constant threat of being killed. A ceasefire is urgently needed.”
All schools in Aleppo shut in late July due to the increased violence, and in Idlib many facilities have been forced to close for days or weeks at a time. In the last month, schools we support that have remained partly open have lost a total of 65 teaching days because of the conflict, and at least 16 have either been directly hit, affected by nearby bombing, or forced to suspend classes.
The attacks on our partners’ schools represent only part of the story and many more incidents are likely to go unreported. For five years now, schools across Syria have been damaged, destroyed or occupied, depriving children of their education.