Over 20 mn children in conflict zones out of school: Unicef

United Nations, Jan 12 (IANS) Over 20 million children living in conflict-torn countries are out of school, the Unicef has said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) fears that unless education is provided to children living in emergency situations, a generation of children will grow up without the skills they need to contribute to their countries and economies, reports Xinhua.

“School equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the conflict is over,” said Unicef Chief of Education Jo Bourne in a statement late on Monday.

According to an analysis released by Unicef, the countries with the highest proportion of children out of school include South Sudan — where 51 percent of primary and lower secondary aged children are not in school — and Niger — where 47 percent of children are out of school. Afghanistan and Sudan are among countries with 40 percent or more of children out of school.

“Children living in countries affected by conflict have lost their homes, family members, friends, safety, and routine,” said Bourne.

“Now, unable to learn even the basic reading and writing skills, they are at risk of losing their futures and missing out on the opportunity to contribute to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood,” she said.

Bourne also said children who are not in school in conflict areas are at increased risk of recruitment into armed groups.

According to Unicef, security restrictions and funding shortfalls are affecting the provision of education and the distribution of learning materials in conflict situations.

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