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These refugee kids in Lebanon lost their chance to be children

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These refugee kids in Lebanon lost their chance to be children

WATCH | These Syrian refugees explain why they desperately want to go to school 

Although I feared this would happen, I never thought it would be me and my life.
Mohammed, Age 15

Starting over in Lebanon 

Six years ago, Mohammed fled Syria for an informal settlement in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Instead of going to high school, the 15-year-old works at a cement factory with his father. Together, their salaries help support their family of nine. 

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[Class Photo 4 of 4] Seven of the 17 Syrian refugees who do attend school stand for a photograph in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Monday, 13 June, 2016. The other 10 are being deprived of a basic right, missing an opportunity of a better life and of breaking a cycle of injustice. #ImagineaSchool - In December 2016, some 13.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes and are either internally displaced or have become refugees. Currently, 1 million Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, of which half are children. Unregistered refugees are estimated to number around half a million. Before the crisis, Syria had some of the highest literacy and school attendance rates in the Middle East and North Africa. Nearly six years into the violence, half of all Syrian children - or 2.8 million - in Syria and neighbouring countries, are currently out of school. Protracted crises like the one in Syria not only temporarily interrupt children?s education and lives, but they often also close the door on education for a lifetime. Syrians parents are fully aware of the importance of education, but with seven in 10 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon living below the poverty line, their socioeconomic situation is often so serious that they are left with no choice other than making their children work. Employing children is illegal in Lebanon and failing to meet children?s basic right of education quashes their hope of a normal childhood and impedes them in contributing to future societies. Currently, 183,000 school aged children from Syria are out of school - 49% of all registered Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon has the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in the country. The valley is also an agricultural area and land owners in Lebanon often allow Syrians to live on their land in exchange for labour by the family?s children. The typical child labourer in Lebanon is a Syrian boy between 10 and 14 years of age - boys f

Mohammed is among the 187,000 Syrian children living in Lebanon who are not in school. The country has taken in more than 1 million displaced Syrians since the start of the conflict in 2011 -- more refugees per capita than any other country. 

Education really is a last resort of a dignified life of opportunities they had, and most of us normally do, taken for granted.
Hedinn Halldorsson, UNICEF

A lost generation 

A new report from UNICEF says children as young as six years old are working in agriculture, factories or construction, or are on the streets. The organization warns an entire generation of Syrians could grow up without an education.  

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Syrian refugee Ali, 13, who attends school, stands for a photograph in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Thursday, 12 May, 2016. Recouting his education in Syria Ali said, ?I managed to finish 5th grade before we fled, five years ago. We came here on a bus with our parents. My school was nice. It was yellow.? #ImagineaSchool - In December 2016, some 13.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes and are either internally displaced or have become refugees. Currently, 1 million Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, of which half are children. Unregistered refugees are estimated to number around half a million. Before the crisis, Syria had some of the highest literacy and school attendance rates in the Middle East and North Africa. Nearly six years into the violence, half of all Syrian children - or 2.8 million - in Syria and neighbouring countries, are currently out of school. Protracted crises like the one in Syria not only temporarily interrupt children?s education and lives, but they often also close the door on education for a lifetime. Syrians parents are fully aware of the importance of education, but with seven in 10 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon living below the poverty line, their socioeconomic situation is often so serious that they are left with no choice other than making their children work. Employing children is illegal in Lebanon and failing to meet children?s basic right of education quashes their hope of a normal childhood and impedes them in contributing to future societies. Currently, 183,000 school aged children from Syria are out of school - 49% of all registered Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon has the highest concentration of Syrian refugees in the country. The valley is also an agricultural area and land owners in Lebanon often allow Syrians to live on their land in exchange for labour by the family?s children. The typical child labourer in Lebanon is a Syrian boy between 1

“Poverty, social exclusion, insecurity and language barriers are preventing Syrian children from getting an education," said UNICEF Lebanon Representative Tanya Chapuisat in a statement. 

What you can do to help   

Across the world, education is one of the least-funded humanitarian appeals sectors. According to UNICEF, education funding for humanitarian agencies in 2015 was down 66 percent from a decade ago. 

To help children worldwide get an education, you can donate to UNICEF or other organizations including Save the Children and CARE

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Syrian refugee Yamen, 10, who attends school, walks past lines of laundry at an informal settlement in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Friday, 10 June, 2016. ?I only did one year of schooling before the war. The school here is very different from school in Syria. Here we are cramped into a bus. The transport was better there but I think I might be learning more here. I am studying English and French and I never did that in Syria. My dad worked in Lebanon before the crisis and now he?s working in construction. It was him that wanted me to register for school, it wasn?t even up for discussion. I like French classes because the teacher is nice and she always wants us to learn something new. This is my first class photo. I never had one taken in Syria. We were to do it but then the war broke out." #ImagineaSchool - In December 2016, some 13.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes and are either internally displaced or have become refugees. Currently, 1 million Syrian refugees are registered in Lebanon, of which half are children. Unregistered refugees are estimated to number around half a million. Before the crisis, Syria had some of the highest literacy and school attendance rates in the Middle East and North Africa. Nearly six years into the violence, half of all Syrian children - or 2.8 million - in Syria and neighbouring countries, are currently out of school. Protracted crises like the one in Syria not only temporarily interrupt children?s education and lives, but they often also close the door on education for a lifetime. Syrians parents are fully aware of the importance of education, but with seven in 10 registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon living below the poverty line, their socioeconomic situation is often so serious that they are left with no choice other than making their children work. Employing children is illegal in Lebanon and failing to meet children?s basic right of education quashes their hope of a normal childhood and impedes

All photos courtesy of UNICEF / Romenzi. For more information, check out UNICEF's interactive series, #ImagineASchool.

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