Spectre of hunger keeps Syrian refugee children out of school
By Alex Whiting
ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With just 60 days to go before the start of the new school year, hundreds of thousands of Syrian parents are faced with the stark choice of whether to feed their children or send them to school, experts said on Wednesday.
Nearly 1 million Syrian refugee children are out of school in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan which host the vast majority of the nearly 5 million refugees created by Syria's civil war.
Many Syrian children are forced to work to help make ends meet, or unable to pay for transport to school, according to a report written by the head of the London-based think tank, Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
In February, donors pledged $1.4 billion to help host countries provide education for all Syrian refugee children in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. About $1 billion of this has not yet been delivered, according to the report published on Wednesday.
More funds are also needed to help families cover food and other basic costs, ODI Executive Director Kevin Watkins said.
"If you're a parent faced with a choice of giving your children a square meal at the end of the day, or paying for the transport ... to send them to school ... you're likely to make a choice in favor of adequate nutrition," Watkins said in an interview.
Poverty levels among Syrian refugees have increased sharply since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, as rental charges, rising food costs and spending on healthcare and heating have eaten into the savings of refugee families.
More than half of the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon cannot afford enough food, and some 70 percent live on less than $115 per month, the country's poverty line, ODI said. Continued...