UN calls for better protection from attacks on schools

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A new UN report supplies further evidence of the disturbing trend towards attacks on schools that we documented in the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, meets children at the Goma Children Rehabilitation Centre, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (UN Photo/Myriam Asmani)

The annual report of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, released on May 11, finds that an increasing number of armed forces in conflicts around the world are deliberately attacking schools or forcing them to close. Attacks against schools and hospitals were reported in at least 15 of 22 conflicts that were monitored.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, stressed that schools must always be safe places of learning for children. “They should be zones of peace. Those who attack schools and hospitals should know that they will be held accountable,” she said.

The annual report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on children and armed conflict gives an overview of the situation of children affected by conflict and action taken for their protection over the reporting period.

“I am concerned about the increasing trend of attacks on schools and hospitals,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report. He recommends that the Security Council add parties to conflict that are attacking schools and hospitals to the annex of the report.

The report lists those forces that recruit and use, kill and maim or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in conflict. “We’ve taken no parties off of the list and added four more – two in Yemen and two in Iraq,” Radhika Coomaraswamy said.

The report contains detailed information on violations against children in Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Occupied Palestinian Territories/Israel, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Southern border provinces of Thailand, Uganda and Yemen.

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