With up to 180 Iraqi academics killed, UNESCO calls for international protection

5 April 2006

With between 170 and 180 Iraqi academics killed since the start of the war in 2003 and thousands more driven into exile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today called for international solidarity and mobilization in favour of education and educators in the violence-torn country.

With between 170 and 180 Iraqi academics killed since the start of the war in 2003 and thousands more driven into exile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today called for international solidarity and mobilization in favour of education and educators in the violence-torn country.

“The right to education is a basic human right and the persecution of the custodians of knowledge and skills is an unacceptable attack against a whole society,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said.

“Iraq has a long tradition in learning and academic excellence in the Middle East. By targeting those who hold the keys to Iraq’s reconstruction and development, the perpetrators of this violence are jeopardizing the future of Iraq and of democracy,” he added.

According to the Geneva-based Study and Research Centre for the Arab and Mediterranean World, four Iraqi academics, including one physician, were killed just last week.

“UNESCO is currently involved with Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education to help reconstruct the country’s higher education system, which has been severely damaged by decades of oppression and war,” Mr. Matsuura declared. “We cannot stand by and watch the custodians of Iraq’s culture and learning be threatened, abducted or murdered.”

He said he would discuss the issue during a meeting next week with Iraq’s UNESCO Ambassador Muhyi Alkateeb and members of the International Committee for the Protection of Iraqi Academics, set up in February this year under the Research Centre to raise awareness and support for Iraqi academics and intellectuals.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.