29 June 2007 – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today condemned continuing attacks on schoolchildren and educational facilities in conflict ones around the world, citing recent incidents in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
“Attacks on schoolchildren are unacceptable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Schools must be safe environments for children to learn and thrive.”
In recent weeks, at a girls' school in Afghanistan, two schoolgirls were killed, and another three students and a teacher were injured, while in Gaza, one student traveling to national college entrance exams was killed, and in a separate incident another was injured, in crossfire.
“In parts of Iraq parents remain justly concerned about the risks involved in sending their children to school, and insecurity has closed schools in the Central African Republic, in Nepal and in Sri Lanka ,” the agency said in a news release.
At the same time, UNICEF cited evidence that where an education system continues to function, students will face real risks to take advantage of the opportunities that education provides. In the occupied Palestinian territory in June, some 60,000 students in both Gaza and the West Bank made it through 10 days of entrance exams, despite the current crisis.
“Children have the right to a safe learning environment at all times, even under the most difficult of circumstances,” Ms. Veneman stated.