Africa: Children in Conflict Zones Risk Losing Future, Unicef Warns – AllAfrica.com

Juba — Nearly one in four children growing up in conflict zones are missing out on education, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

According to UN agency report, South Sudan, Niger, Sudan and Afghanistan are the worst-affected countries and an estimated 24 million children of school-going age are out of school in 22 countries affected by conflict reported Reuters.

South Sudan has the largest proportion of children out of school, 51 percent, followed by 47 percent in Niger, 41 percent in Sudan and 40 percent in Afghanistan.

UNICEF’s head of education, Jo Bourne said “When children are not in school, they are at an increased danger of abuse, exploitation and recruitment into armed groups.”

Bourne said that school is important because it equips children with the knowledge and skills they need to rebuild their communities once the conflict is over.

“In the short-term it provides them with the stability and structure required to cope with the trauma they have experienced,” he said adding if children grow up without an education, their future prospects are bleak.

“Unable to learn even the basic reading and writing skills, they are at risk of losing their futures and missing out on the opportunity to contribute to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood,” said Bourne.