Lebanon’s economic crisis, which is massively impacting the country’s education and health sectors, has created a “lost generation” of children who have been “robbed of an education”, the deputy representative for Unicef Lebanon has warned.
While Syrian refugee children are disproportionately affected by the country’s instability, Lebanese children are also struggling and have been “stripped of their dignity”, Ettie Higgins told the Irish Times.
Things are “extremely difficult” for Lebanese people but “catastrophic” for Syrian families, 95 per cent of whom are now living in extreme poverty, she added.
There are an estimated 700,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon while 30 per cent of school-aged Syrians have never been to school, according to UNHCR data. The number of children attending school has dropped substantially in recent years amid widespread strikes, civil unrest, the Covid-19 pandemic and following the 2020 Beirut port explosion.
It’s estimated 750,000 children do not attend school, 63 per cent of whom are non-Lebanese.
“You see (Syrian) children on the streets working ever day but when you pass them they don’t even look at you because they have no confidence left,” said Ms Higgins, who has worked with Unicef in Africa and the Middle East for more than a decade.