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UN schools targeted in Middle East

Do Not UseDo Not Use 21/05/2016 By Lyse Doucet
Palestinian artists paint murals on the walls of a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees 28 April, 2016, in Gaza City: Schools like this one being spruced up in Gaza City last month are run by UNWRA © AFP Schools like this one being spruced up in Gaza City last month are run by UNWRA

Nearly half the schools run by the UN in the Middle East have been attacked, damaged or rendered inoperable in the past five years, according to a new report obtained by the BBC.

The report by UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, warns that the education of thousands of children has been disrupted.

More than 300 UN schools were attacked or shut down.

In Syria, more than half of the UNWRA schools are no longer in use.

Some are destroyed, some cut off by fighting, others are shelters for displaced families.

Most schools have been looted and more than 400 teachers have fled Syria.

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UN schools in the Middle East

UNWRA runs 692 elementary and preparatory schools in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan and Syria; and 8 secondary schools in Lebanon

Half a million Palestinian refugee children receive free education from UNRWA

At least 302 (or 44%) of UNWRA schools were directly affected by armed conflict or violence in the past five years

Source: UNWRA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East)

UNWRA head Pierre Kraehenbuehl called on all warring parties to respect the civilian character of schools, and to spare the lives of children, teachers, and aid workers.

The report emphasises how schools can provide stability and hope for children but this disruption has been having a profound impact.

The document, which also looks at damage to schools in Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, will be presented on Monday at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul where education will be a special focus.

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