“This year has already proven to be devastating for children’s education in situations where armed conflict is rife”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Virginia Gamba.
In Ukraine, the United Nations has reported 155 attacks on school facilities and infrastructures occurring in government-controlled territory, non-government-controlled territory, and contested regions since February 24, 2022. Most of the facilities were destroyed or suffered damages. In Afghanistan, not only over a million girls were deprived from their right to education by the Taliban’s March decision to forbid teaching to girls beyond sixth grade, but several schools were violently attacked in late April, leaving dozens killed or injured. So far, over 100 schools in Afghanistan suffered some type of attack in the last twelve months over and above the restrictions on girls’ schooling. In Cameroon, attacks against education have been recurrent in recent months with schools set on fire and students as well as education and healthcare staff attacked on their way to work. As a result of such insecurity, over 700,000 children in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon are deprived of an education. In Syria, after 11 years of conflict, repeated attacks on children and their education continue to deprive children of their right to education, leaving survivors with deep psychological scars.
“Despite being a violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, the targeting of schools and hospitals during conflict has become widespread in several contexts, with devastating impacts on civilian populations, especially children. Attacks on education and healthcare must stop now,” said Virginia Gamba.
“In many contexts, attacks against schools and hospitals are often committed in conjunction with other grave violations, such as abductions or the recruitment and use of children. Even in contexts where facilities are closed, non-functioning, or abandoned, they still must be protected from military use and attacks, for targeting these infrastructures is still considered a deliberate attack on education. In yet other contexts, threats against the rights to education and health continue long after conflict, as explosive remnants of war, mines, and other unexploded devices continue to endanger children, often preventing them from resuming a much-needed education,” she added.
“When civilians and especially children and civilian infrastructure become part and instruments of conflict, it is our entire societies that are suffering. Additionally, all parties to conflict, wherever they are, must refrain from using schools and healthcare facilities for military purposes, abide by their obligations under international law, and prevent attacks against education and health facilities, as well as other civilian infrastructure and protected personnel.”
“I call on all States to ensure the implementation of Security Council resolutions 2601 (2021) and 2286 (2016), which unequivocally call on States to protect education and healthcare. I also encourage all States to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration and ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent and respond to attacks on schools during armed conflict,” she concluded.
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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