The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today voiced its concern about increasing numbers of attacks on school buildings in north-western Pakistan, and called for greater efforts to protect what are supposed to be safe spaces for children.
Since 2007, more than 170 government and private schools, particularly girls’ schools, have been blown up or burned down in the Federally Administered Tribal Area and the North West Frontier Province, reportedly by illegal armed groups.
Several schools have also been closed due to occupation by illegal armed groups or security forces, or due to their female teachers being threatened, UNICEF said in a news release.
“UNICEF condemns these attacks, which rob children of their basic right to education and have a devastating impact on their lives,” said the agency’s Regional Director for South Asia, Daniel Toole.
In a recent incident, five schools were blown up in the country’s Swat district and similar attacks continue to be reported.
UNICEF stressed that schools must be safe spaces for children, in times of peace and in conflicts or emergencies.
“Attacks that target schools, educational institutions, children and teachers are unacceptable and must cease immediately,” said Mr. Toole.