Palestinian students are seen at UNRWA school in Beirut, Lebanon. (File photo)
More than 11,000 Palestine Refugees children in South Lebanon will not be able to join their peers at the beginning of the school year on 2 October, said the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
UNRWA said in a press release that this is a quarter of refugee school children and is due to violence and clashes in the Ein El Hilweh camp, the largest in the country.
“UNRWA was forced to take this decision given all our eight schools inside the camp have been taken over by armed groups. They have sustained significant destruction and damage. Other schools – outside the camp- are currently being used by displaced families,” said Dorothée Klaus, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon.
At least 4,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Ein El Hilweh. Many sought refuge in UNRWA facilities while others are staying with relatives and friends.
“UNRWA is currently working to find alternatives so that children from the camp and the surrounding areas can go back to school as soon as possible. Children’s education is a right that should never be compromised. We call on those fighting and those with influence over them to vacate the UNRWA schools inside the camp,” concluded Klaus.
Meanwhile, UNRWA said it has been providing safe spaces and some education material for children and activities so they can have some learning and be able to reconnect with their childhood.
On 19 August, eight UNRWA schools were taken over by militants. Since 31 July when the fighting began, at least 30 people were killed, and hundreds were injured. Fighting led to massive destruction across most of the camp. Thousands of people have fled.
On 29 August, UNRWA appealed for US$ 15.5 million to support its response to displaced families forced to flee the camp.
Armed groups have taken over eight UNRWA schools inside Ein El Hilweh camp, hampering the access of nearly 6,000 children to education when the school year starts on 2 October.