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L'éducation, part de l’aide d’urgence dans les situations de conflit ou postconflit - Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour les enfants et les conflits armés et Sous-Directeur général de l’UNESCO - Conférence de presse (extraits) Français

L'éducation, part de l’aide d’urgence dans les situations de conflit ou postconflit - Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général pour les enfants et les conflits armés et Sous-Directeur général de l’UNESCO - Conférence de presse (extraits) Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
18 March 2009



Press Conference

            Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


PRESS CONFERENCE ON ACCESS TO EDUCATION IN EMERGENCY, POST-CRISIS SITUATIONS


Two senior United Nations officials today called on the international community to elevate the centrality of education to the front of the humanitarian agenda, similar to the way in which the world dealt with emergency response, particularly where children were involved.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Nicholas Burnett, Assistant Director-General for Education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), made the call at a Headquarters press conference, where they briefed on the General Assembly’s day-long interactive thematic debate on Education in Emergencies.  (See Press Release GA/10812.)

The two officials also called for better funding for education, particularly for girls.  “We want education as an emergency response.  As you know, water, sanitation and food are considered as emergency response.  But what we’re pushing for is to ensure that education is an integral part of emergency programmatic planning and response,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy, pointing out that education brought stability, normality and routine into a child’s life, which was absolutely essential, especially when children were displaced.  Schools should be recognized as zones of peace where children could feel secure, even in situations of conflict as such a sense of safety was absolutely crucial for them.

She expressed serious concern about attacks on schools, whether they were part of aerial bombardments, targeted attacks on schools, teachers and students; as well as use of schools for military activities.  All such actions were considered violations of international humanitarian law and perpetrators should be held accountable for them.  It was significant that the meeting had dedicated an entire session of the thematic debate on accountability to examining that particular issue in more detail.

Internally displaced children especially needed education, she said, adding that her Office was in the process of formulating rights and guarantees for them, of which education would be prominent.  The issue of girls’ right to education also had to be raised because it had increasingly come under threat in many parts of the world, including southern Thailand.  Those attacks were “seriously chronicled” in the Secretary-General’s report.

Even emergency education must be of high quality because her Office had found in other parts of the world that, if done wrongly, education could actually make things worse, she said.  “If certain kinds of myths and legends are then given to children to make them hate it’s very important that there be quality education that works towards peaceful attitudes, especially if the UN is funding such programmes.”

Endorsing that message, Mr. Burnett, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, reiterated the centrality of education in dealing not only with poverty, but also exclusion.  Education in emergencies was absolutely central and today’s thematic debate provided visibility to one of the “most blatant causes of exclusion from education” -- conflict on the one hand, and natural disasters on the other.

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Asked why the UNESCO report made no mention of Israeli attacks on schools in the Gaza Strip, and why the issue had been totally ignored, Mr. Burnett said that just went to reinforce the serious need for a proper monitoring system.  Also, the report was a one-off publication done several years ago, before the recent conflict in Gaza, and had been based on information made available at the time.  “We need a better, agreed international monitoring system, and I think your point just reinforces that point.”

Ms. Coomaraswamy added that, to some extent, her Office had addressed those concerns in its report to the Human Rights Council, which chronicled all attacks on schools during the recent confrontation in Gaza.

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For information media • not an official record

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