Syria Relief school suspended after being hit by bombardment

A SCHOOL operated by Denton-based Syria Relief, is currently in a state of suspension after it became a victim of bombardment due to airstrikes and tank shelling in the Ma’arrat al-Numan area of Syria on Thursday, December 19.

No one was killed, but Syria Relief have been forced to suspend educational activities due to the danger provided by the massive bombardment that Ma’arrat al-Numan is currently facing. Because of this, 1,300 children are currently not receiving an education.

Syria Relief, who are the largest Syria-focused non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the UK, say that even home-based educational activity is currently impossible due to the scale of the offensive on Ma’arrat al-Numan, a town south of Idlib.

This is the fifth school of Syria Relief’s to have been hit by military action since the start of the Idlib offensive on April 30.  Syria Relief run 159 schools across Syria, making them the largest NGO provider of education in Syria.

In September, Syria Relief launched a report entitled ‘No School To Back Towhich detailed the impact of deliberate targeting of schools is having on Syrian children and the Syrian economy. The report found that:

  • Areas that have had schools targeted experience temporary strikes in illiteracy
  • The targeting of schools makes a political settlement to the police close to impossible, as it embitters the population to the forces who choose to flout international law through the destruction of school
  • Girls and children with disabilities are put at a greater disadvantage, due to the tendency of regressive attitudes to prevail when children are out of education
  • Teachers and children are attending school less, due to fear that the classroom is no longer safe due to the bombing campaign
  • NGO resources are being spent on trying to address the huge need for psychosocial support for the thousands of children suffering from mental trauma that comes from growing up in a war zone, to tackle the increasing likelihood that children will fall out of school and struggle to learn at the same pace as other children, due to severe trauma

Charles Lawley, Syria Relief’s head of advocacy and public relations said: “As the largest provider of education for any NGO in Syria, we found that the quality of education suffers immensely when we are having to prioritise saving children’s lives, over helping children to learn and grow.

“The schools Syria Relief’s operate achieve great educational outcomes, however five of our schools have been hit in six months, and education facilities are no longer places where children and teachers can feel safe.

“However, avoiding school also has tragic consequences for a child. If a child is out of education then their potential is under severe threat, too.

“Some parents in Syria are forced to choose between risking their child’s life by sending them to school or risking their future by not sending them. Destroying a school is in no one’s interest and we beg the actors in this conflict to stop targeting schools.”

Last year, Syria Relief distributed hundreds of millions worth of aid across Syria and helping approximately three million people in Syria. Their projects include:

  • Running hospitals, mobile clinics, primary health centres, family planning clinics and prosthetic limbs centres, helping more than 250,000 people.
  • Running 159 schools, giving more than 55,500 children in Syria an education.
  • Providing vocation training, cash for work and small business support and rehabilitation of farming, raising livestock and water treatment, helping nearly 20,000 people.
  • Providing clean water facilities for over 1.5 million people.

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