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La educación de los refugiados no puede esperar

GINEBRA – La crisis de refugiados que afecta al mundo suele medirse en números. Pero para los jóvenes refugiados que se pierden una educación, también se puede hacer seguimiento con una métrica irreversible: el paso del tiempo. De los 17,2 millones de personas que la oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR) es responsable de proteger, más o menos la mitad tienen menos de 18 años de edad; es decir, toda una generación de jóvenes, que ya ha sido despojada de su infancia, corre riesgo de quedarse también sin futuro.

Buena parte de la población de desplazados del mundo está compuesta por niños en edad escolar. Se calcula que a fines de 2016, había 11,6 millones de refugiados en situación de “desplazamiento prolongado”: lejos de sus hogares por más de cinco años y sin “perspectivas inmediatas” de regresar. De los cuales 4,1 millones han sido refugiados por al menos 20 años, más que el tiempo que pasa en la escuela una persona promedio.

La importancia de la educación de los refugiados es evidente. La niñez es el tiempo de aprender a leer, escribir, contar, preguntar, evaluar, debatir, calcular, establecer empatía y fijarse objetivos. Estas destrezas son especialmente importantes para quienes tendrán la responsabilidad de reconstruir sus países cuando regresen. Además, la educación ofrece a los niños refugiados un espacio seguro en medio de la conmoción del desplazamiento. Y también puede colaborar con el desarrollo pacífico y sostenible de las comunidades que abrieron sus puertas a las familias desplazadas.

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