This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
COVID-19 crisis forced more than 168 million children to miss class in 2020
At least 168 million children globally missed out on classroom learning in the last year, owing to coronavirus-related lockdowns, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday.
Schools in some 14 countries remained largely shut for almost 12 months, as authorities attempted to hold back COVID-19 infections, the UN agency said in a new report.
In response to the findings, Secretary-General António Guterres warned of a global education crisis.
“No effort should be spared to safely bring every child back into the classroom,” he tweeted. Here is he speaking outside UN headquarters in New York:
“One of the most dramatic consequences of the COVID has been the terrible. suffering of children and families because of children that cannot attend school. Many fortunately have a chance to do it with virtual means, but for the poorest populations without internet connections you have millions out of school. And that is a tragedy.”
As the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches on 11 March, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore underlined the “catastrophic education emergency (that) worldwide lockdowns have created.
“With every day that goes by, children [who are] unable to access in-person schooling fall further and further behind...and the most marginalized paying the heaviest price”, Ms. Fore added.
Condemnation over targeted killing of three women journalists in Afghanistan
Condemnation now over the killing of three female media professionals in Afghanistan, who were shot dead in Jalalabad city in the east of the country.
According to reports, the women died in two separate attacks after leaving the TV and radio station where they worked.
Since 2018, 65 media workers and rights defenders have been killed in Afghanistan, according to the UN Mission there, UNAMA.
Describing the outrage as “another dreadful day for media” in the country, the mission called for prompt, transparent and independent investigations into the brutal killings.
Nigeria: Children traumatised by abduction need urgent rehabilitation, say UN experts
To Nigeria now, where rights experts have expressed concern that too little is being done to help teenagers left traumatized by the current spate of attacks on schools and mass abductions.
In an alert on Wednesday, more than a dozen UN-appointed independent experts said that without assistance, victims who have been released were “at (an) increased risk of exploitation, trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of violence”.
The experts also criticized the lack of an effective investigation into an attack on a boarding school in Kankara, Katsina State, in December -- as well as a shortage of action to prevent a repeat of such incidents.
Nearly 350 boys were abducted and released days later, but there has been a “total lack of transparency” about progress with the criminal probe almost three months later, the experts maintained.
Nor has there been specialized rehabilitation for the victims since their release, they added, before urging the authorities to implement long-term measures that would restore their physical and mental well-being, and to help them overcome the stigma that is often associated with such abductions.
The experts also highlighted their concerns for the 279 schoolgirls who were set free on Tuesday, after being taken last week in the northwest state of Zamfara.
Because of such incidents, “many children have not returned to class and some schools have already closed in border areas out of fear of reoccurrence”, the experts said. “This may mean an end to education for these children.”
Daniel Johnson, UN News.