Conflict, widespread poverty stall progress on education rates over past decade – UNICEF


This 11-year-old girl lost her left leg in a suicide attack in an internal displaced persons (IDP) site in the Lake Chad Region. After three months in a hospital, she is trying to start over. UNICEF/Bahaji

Pervasive levels of poverty, protracted conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies have led to stagnation in reducing the global out-of-school rate over the past decade, prompting the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to call for more investments.

With 11.5 per cent of school-age children – or 123 million missing school today, compared to 12.8 per cent – or 135 million – in 2007, the percentage of out-of-school 6-15 year olds has barely decreased in the last decade, according to UNICEF.

“Investments aimed at increasing the number of schools and teachers to match population growth are not enough,” said UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne.

“This business-as-usual approach will not get the most vulnerable children into school – and help them reach their full potential – if they continue to be trapped in poverty, deprivation and insecurity,” she added.

Children living in the world’s poorest countries and in conflict zones are disproportionally affected. Of the 123 million children missing out on school, 40 per cent live in the least developed countries and 20 per cent live in conflict zones.

UNICEF points out that war continues to threaten – and reverse – education gains.

The conflicts in Iraq and Syria have resulted in an additional 3.4 million children missing out on education, bringing the number of out-of-school children across the Middle East and North Africa back to 2007’s level of approximately 16 million.

With their high levels of poverty, rapidly increasing populations and recurring emergencies, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for 75 per cent of the global out-of-school primary- and lower-secondary school age population.

“Governments and the global community must target their investments at eliminating the factors preventing these children from going to school in the first place, including by making schools safe and improving teaching and learning,” she continued.

However, some progress has been achieved.

Ethiopia and Niger, among the world’s poorest countries, have made the most enrolment rate progress in primary-school-age children with an increase of more than 15 per cent and around 19 per cent, respectively.

Emergency funding shortfalls for education affect access for children in conflict to attend school.

On average, less than 2.7 per cent of global humanitarian appeals are dedicated to education.

Six-months into 2017, UNICEF had only received 12 per cent of the funding required to provide education for children caught up in crises. More funds are urgently required to address the increasing number and complexity of crises and to give children the stability and opportunities they deserve.

“Learning provides relief for children affected by emergencies in the short-term, but is also a critical investment in the future development of societies in the long-term,” underscored Ms. Bourne.

“Yet investment in education does not respond to the realities of a volatile world. To address this, we must secure greater and more predictable funding for education in unpredictable emergencies,” she concluded.

EU extends naval operation against human smuggling in Mediterranean

The European Union (EU) announced Tuesday it was extending the mandate of the naval operation against human smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea until the end of 2018, in a bid to further disrupt the smugglers’ business models.

libyamigrants.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x737The extension of EUNAVFOR MED-Operation Sophia’s mandate came amid unabated migratory pressure coming from the central Mediterranean route linking Libya to Italy, via which 85,183 migrants and refugees have arrived in the country since January.

Launched in June 2015 to help better manage irregular migration, the mission was authorized to identify, capture and dispose vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers and human traffickers.

“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan coast guard and navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states,” said EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

The operation’s mandate was last extended in June 2016, with two supporting tasks — training the Libyan coast guard and navy, and contributing to the implementation of the United Nations arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.

However, the effectiveness of the mission has been called into question as over 181,000 people arrived in the EU through the central Mediterranean route in 2016, while 4,576 people lost their lives in the risky journey, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Published courtesy of Xinhua

New UN Migration Report Shows Complex Evolution of Pathways, Cost of Eastern Mediterranean Route

New data released by IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency, reveals a complex evolution of migrant arrivals in Europe via the so-called Eastern Mediterranean Route. The Agency’s main findings are that the cost of getting into Europe has increased significantly when compared to 2016, the routes have changed, and different countries of destination are being prioritized.


Syrian refugees crossing the Serbian-Croatian border. File photo: Francesco Malavolta / IOM 2015

Many migrants are now paying upwards of USD 5,000 to get into the European Union, with those coming from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan being charged the most. Greece and Bulgaria are being used as transit countries into the Western Balkans, with Northern Europe as the goal destination. While the most popular destination up to June 2016 was overwhelmingly Germany, migrants now seek to get to France, Sweden, Italy, Norway, Austria and Denmark as well.

“With increased border controls, it has become harder to reach Europe,” noted Livia Styp-Rekowska, IOM’s Border Management Specialist in Vienna. “One constant, however, is the increase in sums demanded.”

“The response to smuggling cannot be piecemeal,” she added. “It must provide protection and assistance to smuggled migrants; address the causes of migrant smuggling; enhance states’ capacity to disrupt the activities of migrant smugglers; and promote research and data collection on migrant smuggling.”

There are also indications that people have been exploited along the route, and have incurred huge debts to make their way to Europe.

water“Loss of life at sea is tragic and should be averted at all costs, but there are other dimensions,” noted Styp-Rekowska. “One also has to remember that those who make it often have their lives put on hold. Our research shows that 40 per cent of refugee and migrant children have had no schooling in the past year. Almost one in three children reported that the last time they went to school was more than two years ago and just as many have missed one to two years of schooling. Twenty-three per cent said they have never gone to school.”

IOM’s flow monitoring surveys are part of the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) activities in the Mediterranean. The initiative began in October 2015 and is conducted within the framework of IOM’s research on populations on the move through the Mediterranean and Western Balkan routes to Europe.

Between January and June last year, 6,401 surveys were conducted in Greece, Hungary, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The sample size for the period between January and June 2017 consists of 2,140 surveys. The analysis focuses on the comparison of migrant profiles and characteristics of their journeys between these two time periods.