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Aleppo’s Children Left Behind As War Shutters Schools

Schools across Syria have been shut down, damaged or used as shelters, denying millions of children the chance to attend.
A view shows a damaged wall at a school in Aleppo January 15, 2013. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3CHJL

ALEPPO, Syria  — Maryam, no more than 9 years old, sells biscuits and sweets from a cardboard stall on the pavement. I pass her almost every day on my way downtown, and occasionally stop to buy some of her cheap, inedible merchandise. She still has that impish and innocent smile that all children have, but her eyes betray a deeper sadness. They have seen what no child should ever have to see, and her little soul has endured what nothing so fragile should ever have to bear.

I asked her one day, “Are you in school?” She smiled and responded, “I am in school, but I don't go to school.” Maryam was living in a nearby school along with her family and others displaced by the fighting. That was a bitter irony for young Maryam: She was in school all the time, but not getting any education. Tragically, her case is not unique, and thousands of other children like her, both internally displaced in Syria or living in refugee camps in neighboring countries, are missing out on vital education pivotal to their mental and social development.

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