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UN chief strongly condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ attack on Pakistani schoolgirl

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UN chief strongly condemns ‘heinous and cowardly’ attack on Pakistani schoolgirl

Voicing his “outrage and strongest condemnation” over the shooting of a 14-year-old girl who has bravely championed the right to education for women and girls in Pakistan, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for the perpetrators of this “heinous and cowardly” act to be swiftly brought to justice.

According to media reports, Malala Yousufzai, who opposed Pakistani Taliban restrictions on female education, was in critical condition after gunmen shot her in the head and neck yesterday as she left school in Mingora, in the Swat area of Pakistan. Two other girls were also wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the youngster was “pro-West,” had been promoting Western culture and had been speaking out against them. It justified shooting her by citing instances from the Koran in which a child or woman was killed, according to the media reports, which quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying: “We are dead against co-education and a secular education system.”

“The Secretary-General, like many around the world, has been deeply moved by Malala Yousufzai’s courageous efforts to promote the fundamental right to education, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.

“The Secretary-General is hoping for Malala Yousufzai’s full and speedy recovery and extends his heartfelt sympathies to her family at this very difficult time. He similarly expresses his sympathies to the families of the other two girls wounded in this attack. The Secretary-General also expresses his solidarity with the Government and people of Pakistan in their efforts to confront violent extremism.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also strongly condemned the attack, voicing “extreme concern” for the well-being of the three girls. “Malala spoke courageously in favour of children’s rights, especially girls’ education, in Pakistan,” it said in a statement.

“UNICEF calls on all parties to respect all children’s rights, including education in a safe and protective environment. With 20 million children already out of school in Pakistan, it is critical that quality education reaches all children, particularly the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”

Yesterday Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, condemned the attack “in the harshest terms.”