This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Violence and bullying affect one in three students, education experts warn
Children face violence and bullying at school all over the world, with one in every three students subject to attacks at least once a month, and one in 10 a victim of cyberbullying, the UN said on Thursday.
The warning from UNESCO, the UN organization for education, science and culture, based on 2019 data, coincides with the first International Day against Violence and Bullying at School - Including Cyberbullying, on 5 November.
In a statement, UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay described bullying as a “blight” that was “neglected, minimized or ignored”, even though it inflicted “physical and emotional suffering on millions of children around the world”.
We all have “a part to play in stopping violence and bullying in schools," she said, as UNESCO reported that child victims are more than twice as likely to miss school as those who are not frequently bullied.
Warning also that cyberbullying is on the rise, the UN organization attributed this to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More students than ever were “living, learning and socializing online” and this heightened youngsters’ vulnerability to bullying and cyberbullying, UNESCO added.
Top UN aid official condemns repeated attacks on Cameroon schools
The UN’s top aid official in Cameroon has condemned a spate of recent deadly attacks on schools there.
In a statement, Humanitarian Coordinator Matthias Naab highlighted “repeated” assaults on children, teachers, and educational facilities in the mainly anglophone northwest and southwest regions of the country.
They’ve been attributed to non-state armed groups who’ve called on residents to boycott schools in the two regions.
“These acts are abhorrent and unacceptable”, said Mr. Naab, who insisted that education is a fundamental right and children should not be prevented from going to school. “It should be a place of safety and learning…not…fear” he continued, before appealing for an end to the incitement of violence against schools.
His comments follow Tuesday’s attack on a school in Kumbo by armed men who kidnapped 11 teachers and staff.
On Wednesday, at Kulu Memorial College in Limbe, teachers and children were tortured and facilities were damaged, while nine children were kidnapped on their way to school but later released in Fundong.
On 24 October, eight children were killed at Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, prompting UN Secretary-General António Guterres to call on all armed actors to refrain from attacking civilians and to respect international law.
Saudi women’s rights activist must be released immediately, says rights panel
UN-appointed rights experts have called for the immediate release of a Saudi women’s activist amid concerns over her worsening health, appealing directly to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has been refusing food since 26 October to protest against her prolonged detention.
The situation is deeply alarming, the UN women’s rights committee said on Thursday, noting that the activist had addressed the forum in February 2018.
Three months after that meeting, she was arrested and has since been detained on national security grounds, partly based on her engagement with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, it said, citing the charges against her.
Before her arrest, Al-Hathloul was involved in promoting women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, with campaigns calling for women to be allowed to drive and an end to male guardianship.
The committee said that Saudi Arabia had given assurances in February that Al-Hathloul’s trial would take place in March. However, the hearing has been postponed several times.
“Human rights defenders have the right to communication with the UN, and they should do so free from fear or retribution of any sort,” the experts said in a statement.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.
- 1 in 3 students being bullied at school: UNESCO
- UN aid coordinator slams school attacks in Cameroon
- Experts call for immediate release of Saudi women's rights defender on hunger strike