syria migrants refugees kids.jpg
Photograph: EPA/WAEL HAMZEH

More than half of the 6 million school-age refugees around the world have no school to go to, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Thursday, warning that this problem can lead to further conflicts if it is left unaddressed.

Most of these 3.7 million children who are not getting a primary or secondary education live in developing countries. Some 900,000 of them are Syrians.

Lack of basic schooling affects refugees' chances in later life, according to the report that UNHCR published ahead of next week's UN refugee summit in New York.

Only one in 100 refugees manage to enter a university, compared to one in three among ordinary youths.

"All too often, education for refugee children is considered a luxury, a non-essential optional extra after food, water, shelter and medical care," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi criticized.

This lack of schooling "can be hugely damaging, not only for individuals but also for their families and societies, perpetuating cycles of conflict and yet more forced displacement," he warned, calling on donors to focus on this issue.

Regions with low education levels are more likely to experience conflict, the report said, citing other UN research.

Grandi acknowledged that poor host countries are often struggling to educate their own native population and that an influx of refugees can exacerbate the problem.

More than half of the world’s refugee children that are out of school live in these seven countries: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey.

In Turkey and Lebanon, two of the main host countries for Syrian refugees, only about 40 per cent of Syrian children attend schools.

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