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U.N. asks for $129M for Iraqi children

Published July 28, 2007


GENEVA - The United Nations asked Friday for $129-million to educate tens of thousands of Iraqi children who fled to neighboring countries to escape Iraq's violence.

Syria and Jordan need money to expand overcrowded schools, train teachers, cover school fees and provide books for over 150,000 children who are not in school, two U.N. bodies said.

About 500,000 school-age Iraqis live in the region as refugees, said Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the U.N. refugee agency's head of operations.

"Many have no access to school," she said. "The facilities are fully overstretched."

The joint program with the U.N. Children's Fund also aims to help 2,000 Iraqi children in Egypt, 1,500 in Lebanon and 1,500 in other Mideast countries when the new terms start in a month.

The two agencies said barely 10 percent of the estimated 300,000 Iraqi school-age children in Syria go to school. At least 50,000 more do not attend school in Jordan.

Cheng-Hopkins said donors must come forward with funds.

"Otherwise we would be left with a whole generation of uneducated and possibly alienated youth," she said.

Pierrette Vu Thi, deputy director for UNICEF's programs, said "Schooling is a primary concern in all emergency situations because it can help restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of children and can help them overcome psychological and other forms of distress," she said.

Fast Facts:

Iraq developments

Airstrike: A fierce gunbattle broke out after a joint U.S.-Iraqi force arrested a Shiite militia leader in Karbala on Friday, leading to an airstrike and the deaths of some 17 militants, the military said. The military said no civilians were in the area, but local officials said nine people were killed, including four militiamen and five civilians, and 23 people were wounded.

Captures: U.S. troops captured four militants in Diyala province suspected of links to smuggling weapons and fighters from Iran.

Baghdad bomb toll: Workers pulled three more bodies from rubble, raising Thursday's toll to 31 dead and 104 wounded.

Other violence: At least 21 people were killed or found dead Friday, and a bomb killed a U.S. soldier Thursday.

[Last modified July 28, 2007, 02:03:09]

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