Insurgents Attack Schools in Afghanistan

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The anti-government groups have increased their attacks on schools in Afghanistan where at least 72 students and teachers being killed since school began on March 23.

Reports say 62 schools were burned down and another 640 schools were closed because of a lack of security.

Last week, insurgents targeted education officials travelling in Paktika province killing five civilians and wounding seven others. In Khogyani district of Nangahar province on 8 May, anti-government elements set fire to a girls’ secondary school in Wazir village, destroying two school buildings and equipment.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan today voiced serious concern over reported attacks on schools and education officials by anti-government groups in recent weeks.

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Maslakh (Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs) Camp is named after a once thriving business (Maslakh translates as slaughterhouse). Situated near the western Afghan city of Herat, it is home to more than 350,000 displaced Afghans according to the official count from the time of Taliban rule. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says the raids were a violation of children’s right to education.

“It is imperative that all parties to the conflict respect the civilian status of schools and work to protect and promote the rights of children, particularly girls, to education.” -UNAMA

The Mission cites that on 2011, they have recorded unacceptable levels of violence by anti-government elements directed against schools, education institutions, their staff and students.

Reports say insurgents have also conducted a campaign of intimidation against community leaders and staff at the school to force its closure.

“UNAMA condemns these attacks that aim to limit access to education and to intimidate civilians.” -UNAMA

The mission stresses that the attacks and acts of intimidation demonstrate a disregard for the protection of civilians, especially children, and of civilian institutions.

“They are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and of the right to education.” -UNAMA

UNAMA renews calls for the respect of international humanitarian law and for the right to education for all Afghans amid the increasing attacks against schools.

The mission also called on the Afghan Government and the international forces to ensure that effective security measures are in place to protect schools, students and teachers.

“UNAMA strongly urges anti-government elements to uphold and demonstrate the commitments to education they have made in public statements.” -UNAMA

Reports such as blowing up of school buildings and torturing school going children by the Taliban are common in Afghanistan and Af-Pak border region.

Talibans are reportedly particularly opposed to the education of girls. According to an estimate, the Taliban have attacked and destroyed more than 500 educational institutions in the last five years.

On 13th of September 2011, they attacked a school van carrying students. Five innocent kids were killed by these cruel Taliban in that terror attack.

On November 2011, they blew up a school, just 75-kms from Pakistani capital Islamabad. Notably, the Taliban takes responsibility for all these strikes and also warns of such attacks on education in future. Certainly, their main objective is to keep the Muslims, especially girls, bereft of modern education.

A United Nations report issued on May 2011 stressed that attacks against schools by armed elements has compromised the civilian nature of schools and put students at risk.

The UN report also revealed that an increasing number of parties to armed conflicts around the world are deliberately attacking schools or forcing them to close in a disturbing and growing trend.

The annual report of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict finds that out of 22 conflicts that were monitored, attacks against schools and hospitals were reported in at least 15.

The physical damage or destruction of schools is the most re-occurring violation, but there are also reports of schools being closed because of military occupation or direct threats.

In some situations, girls and girls’ schools have been specifically targeted. The use of schools by armed elements has, in certain circumstances, compromised the civilian nature of schools and put students at risk.

In Afghanistan, the UN and the Government recently reached an agreement to release children from the Afghan national security forces and to put in place age verification measures to prevent under-age recruitment.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.