Hussein al-Khalaf, 13, reacts as he sits in a classroom at a school in Sahnaya, near Damascus Syria February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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Hussein al-Khalaf, 13, burst into tears as he sat in his classroom at the Ahmad Baheddine Rajab school near Damascus, recounting why he is learning to read and write for the first time in his life. He was 5 years old when the Syrian conflict began in 2011, shattering his life and that of his family in the city of Albukamal, which soon became a bastion for Daesh (ISIS). Khalaf is one of thousands of Syrian children in a UNICEF emergency education program for those born during the war and who haven't been able to attend school. Their school runs two shifts a day to allow as many children as possible to catch up with other kids. In Syria, an estimated 7.5 million children are growing up knowing nothing but war, according to international NGO Save the Children.The school has 1,750 students, double the number before the war.Syria had 20,000 schools before the war but only 11,000 are functioning; the rest are destroyed, semidestroyed or being used by the armed forces or militia groups, UNICEF said.
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