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United Nations says Syrian refugee children missing education, working to support families

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U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres speaks at press conference in Amman, Jordan, on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013. The head of the United Nations refugee agency has called on European and Gulf Arab states to host Syrian refugees who fled the civil war. Guterres says nearly 3 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries — mainly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. He says an additional 6.5 million are displaced in their war-ravaged country.(AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)The Associated Press

The United Nations refugee agency says a growing number of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon and Jordan are missing out on education and fast becoming primary providers for their families.

More than two million Syrians fled their homes because of the country's raging conflict and sought shelter abroad.

A report by the UNHCR released Friday said at least half of the refugees — 1.1 million — are children. Of those, some 75 percent are under the age of 12.

With the war in its third year, refugee families lacking resources are increasingly relying on children as primary providers. The U.N. said children as young as seven work long hours of manual labor in fields, farms and shops for little pay, sometimes under dangerous or exploitative conditions.