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At a glance: Syrian Arab Republic

In eastern Aleppo, going to school is a challenge

© UNICEF/UN034445/Zayat
Judy (centre) and her schoolmates return from their first day of school in eastern Aleppo. Judy's favourite subject is English, which her older sister helps her study.

by UNICEF Syrian Arab Republic

Nine-year-old Judy is excited to return to school, but going to class is not always easy. Learn about the challenges she and other children in eastern Aleppo face, simply to get an education.

ALEPPO, Syrian Arab Republic, 14 October 2016 – In late September, the new school year started in several areas across the Syrian Arab Republic.

For nine-year-old Judy, who lives in the Old City in the eastern part of Aleppo, returning to school is something to look forward to. Her favourite subject is English. “My older sister helps me study. I love this topic so much,” she said.

But attending school regularly can often be a challenge for Judy and her classmates.

© UNICEF/UN034443/Zayat
Judy returns from the first day of school passing the rubble of nearby houses. “I go to school every day, except for the times when I hear the planes,” she said.

“I go to school every day except for the times when I hear the planes,” she said.

Judy’s school has been affected by the violence and bombings several times in the past years. Houses around the school have been badly damaged, but every morning Judy walks to school with her friends through the rubble.

The first week of school for children like Judy in eastern Aleppo, and in many areas across the country, is not like any other child’s. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, schools have been attacked more than 4,000 times. Today, one in four schools in the country does not function. Almost 2 million children remain out of school and another 1.35 million are at risk of dropping out as escalated fighting, displacement and financial challenges are forcing them out of their protective environments in schools and playgrounds.

© UNICEF/UN034442/Zayat
Judy's schoolmates return from the first day of school passing the rubble of nearby houses.

Another challenge in Aleppo is electricity – millions were left without power after the city’s electrical infrastructure was damaged. In eastern Aleppo where Judy lives, electricity is almost entirely unavailable, especially after the fuel shortages. “I wish we would get some electricity back so I can watch cartoons on TV,” Judy said.

However, Judy's greatest wish was for the closed road to reopen: “I wish this road opens soon so I can go see my brother who lives in another city and just got married. I haven’t even met his wife yet,” she said.

But the road would not reopen. Instead, heavy bombardment and shelling fell on the city, and Judy’s schooling has once again been interrupted.

Violence and conflict continue to take a heavy toll on children in eastern Aleppo and elsewhere in the Syrian Arab Republic. UNICEF is calling on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect children and schools.

>>  Learn more about the humanitarian needs of children in the Syrian Arab Republic



UNICEF Photography: Syrian crisis

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