The civil war in Syria, now entering its fourth year, has sent millions fleeing from their homes, with many heading elsewhere in the Middle East or to Europe. More than 5 million children have been affected by the violence and destruction. Largely unexamined amid the grave humanitarian crisis is the fact that these children no longer attend school. This educational upheaval threatens to create a “lost generation” of Syrians, with profound consequences for their country, the region, and beyond.

At the eastern edge of the European Union, Bulgaria has seen a wave of Syrians cross into the country from Turkey, a wave for which it was largely unprepared. There are around 2,000 Syrian refugee children in Bulgaria, 75 percent of them under the age of 12. They face economic hardship, administrative chaos, social hostility, and racial stereotypes. According to the Bulgarian Education Ministry, only about 65 attend school. In this video report for TOL, journalist Ivaylo Spasov examines conditions for Syrian children in Bulgaria, and why so few are able to go back to class.

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