27 empty school buses in Manhattan draw attention to 27 million children out-of-school in conflict zones

UNICEF calls on world leaders to prioritize education in emergencies

17 September 2017
On 24 June, a girl inside her family’s partially destroyed home looks at the destruction outside, in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City.
UNICEF/UNI188289/El Baba
On 24 June, a girl inside her family’s partially destroyed home looks at the destruction outside, in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City.


Photos available for download here

NEW YORK, 17 September 2017 – A convoy of 27 empty school buses – together with education activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan – travelled through the streets of Manhattan today to shine a spotlight on the 27 million out-of-school children living in conflict zones. 

UNICEF and 19-year-old Almellehan – who was forced to give up her education as their family fled unspeakable violence in Syria in 2013 – came together ahead of the United Nations General Assembly to call on world leaders to prioritize education for every child uprooted by war, violence and poverty.

“Conflict can take away your family, your friends, your routine, your home and your country. But once you give children knowledge, not even conflict can take that away,” said Muzoon, who continued her education while in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan and is now resettled in the United Kingdom.

“Education can never be seen as optional, especially in crises. Without learning, how do we expect children to be the best they can be? We must keep going until we see a world where all children go to school.”


The buses travelled from Brooklyn through lower Manhattan to Times Square carrying powerful messages including “School zones shouldn’t be war zones”; “Tonight’s homework shouldn’t include hiding,” and “Avoiding landmines shouldn’t be an extracurricular activity.”

A staggering 27 million children aged between 6 and 15 years old are currently being denied their right to education due to conflicts not of their making. 

Funding shortfalls for education in emergencies are affecting children’s access to school in conflict and natural disasters. Six-months into 2017, UNICEF had only received 12 per cent of the funding required to provide education for children caught up in crises. 

UNICEF partnered with creative agency KBS and media and production partner PCI to create the live experience in New York City coinciding with the annual UN General Assembly. 

“The 27 bus convoy is a compelling metaphor for the 27 million children who are without access to education due to conflict and poverty,” said KBS CCO Patrick Scissons. “Our goal is simply to disrupt culture and fuel conversation about this important issue.”


Notes to Editors

UNICEF will release Education Uprooted: Migrant, Refugee, Displaced: Realizing the Right to Education for Every Child on Monday 18 September. For a copy of the report please contact hwylie@unicef.org

About KBS

KBS is a global communications agency that helps companies thrive in today’s tech-infused culture.  Our global network includes offices in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, London and Shanghai. Our clients around the world include BMW, American Express, Unilever, Bank of Montreal, Harman, Stanley Black & Decker, Thomas Cook Group, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Alibaba, Jose Cuervo and Vanguard. For more information, visit www.kbsagency.com.

About PCI

PCI Media Impact is a 501(c)(3) organization founded in the state of New York in 1985. PCI Media Impact is an international leader leveraging the combined power of broadcast media and the inspiration of storytelling to change communities around the world. In over 30 years of work with partners, PCI Media Impact has produced more than 7,000 episodes of 125 programs, increasing knowledge, changing attitudes and facilitating behavior change on some of the most pressing issues of our time, including HIV/AIDS prevention, reproductive and sexual health, child and maternal survival, water, sanitation and hygiene issues, human rights and sustainable development. These productions have reached more than 2 billion people in over 60 countries.

Media contacts

Sema Hosta
Chief of Communication
UNICEF in Turkey
Tel: +90 533 622 8346
Helen Wylie
Tel: +1 917 265 4516

UNICEF hakkında

UNICEF dünyadaki en dezavantajlı çocuklara ulaşmak için dünyanın en zorlu yerlerinde çalışmalar yapmaktadır. 190 ülkede ve bölgede, her yerde, herkes için daha iyi bir gelecek kurmak için çalışıyoruz. UNICEF ve çocuklara ilişkin çalışmaları hakkında daha fazla ilgi için:www.unicef.org

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