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Many Refugee Children Aren't in School

There are one million Syrian children living elsewhere in the world as refugees. (
There are one million Syrian children living elsewhere in the world as refugees. (
August 22, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – While children head back to school in Indiana and around the country, many who are victims of the crisis in Syria are unable to attend classes.

According to the United Nations, many of the children who have had to flee their war-torn countries with their families are not getting an education.

Lina Sergie Attar, co-founder and CEO of the Karam Foundation, says there are so many other issues capturing public attention that the plight of Syrian refugees has been pushed out of the spotlight. But she says they are suffering.

"There are hundreds of thousands of kids that are not able to access proper schooling, thousands of kids in child labor, and this is a problem ongoing, from elementary-aged kids all the way up through university," she says.

She says the refugees who were allowed into the United States are falling behind in school, and fewer than six percent of college-age refugees are enrolled in universities.

Sergie Attar adds refugee children struggle in part because they don't understand the language and many need tutoring. She says education helps them to be able to stand on their own feet.

"But they're not being given the opportunities, and that's the keyword here for helping Syrian refugees in the U.S., is to go beyond the basics - and to step up and really give families and kids opportunities," she stresses.

The Karam Foundation has back-to-school programs, including one that focuses on getting children out of child labor situations. Another provides college scholarships, and there's also one that gathers back-to-school items and winter coats for children who need them.

Sergie Attar believes the United States could do much more to help refugees.

"In Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, they're in the millions," she notes. "We've accepted only 15,000 out of over 5 million Syrian refugees, so the U.S. has really not taken on its fair share."

Late last year, a federal appeals court panel blocked then-governor Mike Pence's attempt to keep Syrian refugees out of Indiana.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN