UNICEF denounces violent attacks on schools in Afghanistan

UNICEF denounces violent attacks on schools in Afghanistan

Reacting to the burning of a number of schools recently in Afghanistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today strongly condemned those violent acts and urged action to protect the freedom of all boys and girls to learn.

“Children have the right to education, they have the right to play, they have the right for hope, they have the right for joy, they have the right to grow, and they have the right to learn,” said UNICEF Representative Eric Laroche. “What we are seeing in recent weeks is precisely a violation of all these rights because a child that goes to school – a girl that goes to school and sees her school being burnt down is deprived of her rights.”

Reporting that over the past week, there had been incidents against schools in Kandahar, Wardak and Sar-i-Pul, he told reporters in Kabul that the pattern could not be allowed to continue. Anticipating questions on whether the Taliban was involved, he said, “We don’t think it is a resurgence of Taliban but we think it is time… to help people react against these acts of violence.”

He warned that there could be no peace in the future of Afghanistan until the people understood that education was central to the country’s growth and economic development.

For its part, UNICEF would “help at the community level, at the local level, at the central level, the government, to make sure that children's education, children's schools are going to be protected,” he said.

Amid this grim picture, he voiced optimism about the overall trend, noting that 3 million Afghan children went back to school following the fall of the Taliban, including a significant percentage of girls, who had been banned from receiving an education during the Taliban’s rule. “If you would have talked to a child, any Afghan, two years ago or even one and a half years ago, what struck me was the lack of hope,” he said. “We are restoring hope.”