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Education

The UN Is Speaking Out After 'Abominable' School Attacks in Cameroon and Afghanistan


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, including Goal 4 for quality education. We will not be able to achieve this goal and make sure all children have access to education so long as conflict and terrorism continue to put the lives and futures of schoolchildren at risk. You can help by taking action on this issue and many more in the mission to end extreme poverty here.

The United Nations has expressed shock and outrage after two attacks struck schools in Cameroon and Afghanistan over the weekend, killing dozens of innocent schoolchildren in both countries.

On Oct. 24, attackers wearing civilian clothing stormed into a bilingual school in Kumba, Cameroon, with guns and machetes. The attack left at least eight children dead while 12 others were wounded and taken to local hospitals, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

On the same day, a deadly explosion occurred in an alleyway leading to a tutoring center in Kabul, Afghanistan, claiming the lives of 24 people and wounding another 57, the New York Times reported

The attack occurred amid a climate of intensifying violence in the area close to the Kawsar e Danish centre, as well as in Afghanistan as a whole — where a third of civilian casualties due to armed conflict this year have been children, according to Save the Children. In 2018, nearly 50 people, most of whom were children, were also killed in an attack on an education center in the Afghan capital.

In a statement published on Sunday, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the attack in Cameroon was “another disturbing reminder of the heavy toll paid by civilians, including children, many of whom have been deprived of their right to education.”

“Attacks on education facilities are a grave violation of children’s rights,” the statement added. 

In a tweet, the United Nations’ Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also expressed “deep revulsion” over the attack on the Kawsar center, calling it a “callous and senseless war crime” and stressing the need to double down on efforts to tackle violence across the country.

Cameroon is one of the seven African countries that have reopened schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In English-speaking regions, such as the one where the recent attack occurred, some schools were opening for the first time in four years following tensions ignited by the heavy reliance on French in the bilingual country, VOA News reported

The number of children enrolled in schools across the northwest and southwest parts of Cameroon had been steadily increasing before the attack — leading UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon Matthias N. Zaab to describe the attack as the “worst atrocity” since school resumed on Oct. 5.

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While world leaders have committed to safeguarding education as part of the UN Global Goals, millions of children around the world still lack access to quality education — and conflict plays a big part in that.

Attacks like the ones that occurred in Afghanistan and Cameroon have a significant impact on access to education, making schools an unwelcoming and threatening environment for children around the world, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Henrite Fore highlighted.

She said: “Schools must be places of safety and learning, not death traps.”