Syrian school supported by People in Need destroyed by airstrike as fighting in Idlib and Aleppo governorates escalates
Aleppo, Idlib (2nd October 2017) - At 2:00 am, September 27th, the airstrike hit Batabo village in Aleppo governorate. The airstrike hit the school building levelling one of its two blocks with the ground. The school which has been supported by People in Need was meant to accomodate more than 330 students this year. Today, its six classes are out of service and most of the school furniture is broken into pieces. Renewed intensive fighting in Idlib and Aleppo governorates has further deteriorated the humanitarian situation for all civilians and especially displaced people and people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. People in Need calls on all actors of the conflict in Syria to implement an immediate cease-fire. Civilians are not a target, their lives and dignity must be protected.
“It was early in the morning when we heard a loud explosion. We knew it hit the school,” says school principal Saer Alkhatib, as he walks with us through piles of debris.
People in Need has been supporting this school since 2014. Back then, PIN reconstructed the school building and shortly after began to train the teachers, pay their incentives and cover all school operational costs. Slowly children started to come back. This year, due to ongoing displacement in the region, the number of new students has increased significantly and the school principal was thinking to open an additional section for the first and second graders.
“If the situation gets worse we will divide students into groups and continue teaching them at home,” a school principal told People in Need. “It is not the first time our school was bombed. The situation has been bad for years, but we have responsibility to teach those students no matter what,” adds Saer Alkhatib.
1 in 3 schools in Syria are out of service
"The attack against schools is the next serious break of the Geneva Conventions we are witnessing in Syria on daily basis. Even now one in 3 schools inside Syria is either damaged, destroyed, used as collective shelter or otherwise inaccessible," says Tomas Kocian, PIN Regional Director for Middle East.
This attack against the PIN supported school evidences how desperate the state of education inside Syria is, where one-third of school-age children is already out of school and 1.35 million children are at risk of dropping out. According to UN OCHA 2.9 million Syrian children under the age of five have grown up knowing nothing but conflict.
Schools, hospitals and houses impacted by fighting
Civilians in Aleppo and Idlib governorates have witnessed a significant escalation in violence during last weeks. Daily airstrikes, mortal shells and land-to-land rockets have hit hospitals, aid centres, schools, shelters and roads. On 29th of September, overnight air attacks killed at least 28 civilians in Idlib governorate alone. “After few relatively calm months the current intensive fighting further deteriorate already dire humanitarian situation of displaced people and people in need," says PIN Syria Country Director Taimur Ahmed.
According to UN OCHA there are 2.3 million people residing in areas held by Syria's non-state armed groups (NSAG) in northwestern Syria, a million of whom are internally displaced people. More than 1.3 people in need of one or more forms of assistance are present in Idlib governorate, let alone the NSAG-held areas in adjacent governorates.
Job opportunities in the small province of Idlib (6,000 square kilometres) are almost non-existent for newcomers, especially since hundreds of thousands of Syrians have moved to the area during the past six years. To make matters worse, the families who made it to Idlib area cannot find places to live.
“Such alarming figures reflect the urgency of sustained humanitarian access to the communities in affected areas. We call on all sides of the conflict to stop violence immediately and protect civilians and their infrastructure,” says Tomas Kocian. September has been the deadliest month in Syria's war so far this year. Based on Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) figures 3,055 people had died in September including 995 civilians.
For further information please contact:
Tomas Kocian, PIN Regional Director for Middle East, +420 777 787 970