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During 2020 there were over 2,400 attacks on education facilities, students and teachers
by Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack
6:25pm 15th Sep, 2021
The 9th of September, marks the second International Day to Protect Education from Attack, calling attention to the plight of millions of children living in countries experiencing armed conflict.
The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack has documented more than 2,400 attacks on education facilities, students and teachers during 2020 – a 33 percent increase from 2019. This increase occurred despite the forced closure of many schools due to COVID-19.
In Yemen, more than 400,000 children have been forced out of school by the ongoing war, which has also seen over 2,500 schools damaged, used as shelter by internally displaced people or occupied by armed groups.
In northern Nigeria, meanwhile, more than 1,000 schoolchildren have been kidnapped by armed extremist groups and bandits since December 2020. The attacks have prompted regional authorities to order the forced closure of many education facilities.
Attacks on schools involving explosive weapons were also recorded in over 20 countries in 2020 and 2021.
In Afghanistan, over 185 teachers and students – mostly women and girls – were killed or injured in attacks on 40 schools during the first six months of 2021 as the Taliban consolidated its control over territory.
Similarly, since the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February, education facilities have also been routinely attacked or damaged and the armed forces have occupied schools and universities across the country. There were over 100 attacks on schools in Myanmar during May alone.
Despite international legal protections for students and schools during armed conflict, perpetrators of attacks on education are seldom held accountable.
In a rare moment of accountability, two members of the Islamist armed group, Ansaroul Islam, were sentenced to 20 years in prison on 10 August for attacking a primary school in Burkina Faso during 2018.
Armed groups in the Central Sahel – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – have targeted secular state education across the region. Such groups have been accused of killing, beating, abducting or threatening education professionals, intimidating students and parents, and damaging, destroying and looting schools.
Christine Caldera, Research Analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said that, “at the end of 2020 more than 4,000 schools in the Central Sahel remained closed due to insecurity. This endangers the future of tens of thousands of children.”
All UN member states should endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration and work to ensure that schools, teachers and children are consistently protected in keeping with international law.
Sep. 2021
Let us see what Peace can do, say 200 peacebuilding organizations
Can we find our way back? 18 months into a global pandemic, our hearts go out to those who are suffering. We are in awe of the extraordinary efforts by so many to save lives and offer comfort.
Yet, in too many ways, humanity has fallen short. COVID-19 has shown us the fragility of our institutions and the fault lines in international cooperation, just as the need for unified action is more urgent than ever in the face of the expanding climate emergency.
In 1945, the United Nations was founded to ‘promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom’. But the steady progress that has been made is now at risk, not only from the challenges we face, but also from the way we respond to them.
Responses to crisis that increase violence, injustice and exclusion will exacerbate development losses and human suffering, leaving many behind.
As we face the stark human-made realities of a warming planet, we must redouble our peace efforts, to help mediate and navigate the immense shifts in power and resources that will be needed to forestall further avoidable temperature rise, to prevent and resolve the conflicts that may be exacerbated or precipitated by environmental destruction; and to prepare the path to a more sustainable, peaceful, and equitable future.
We must re-dedicate ourselves to the 2030 Agenda vision of a global partnership of all stakeholders to foster peace, justice, and inclusion, not just in development, but as a goal to unite all efforts to transform our world and respond to the challenges we face.
Peace is not an add-on: peace is the way. As organizations devoted to building peace and justice around the world, we call on the international community to:
• Refocus on peace, justice and inclusion, in development, in crisis response and in addressing the climate emergency. The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs show that development gains are only sustainable if accompanied by efforts by all governments to foster peace, justice, and inclusion.
We know that for crisis response to be effective, it needs to be transformative, rooted in the needs of affected communities, and tied to long-term efforts to further
peace, development, and human rights. Now we need to embed these lessons in all our actions to address the climate emergency and its root causes.
As governments come together this year, we urge delegates to recall that no technical or political solutions will be sustainable unless they are inclusive and equitable, foster trust, include mechanisms to address grievances and promote resilience, respect human rights, and leave no one behind.
• Mainstream and step up investment in peace. Meeting the challenges that the world now faces will require significant resources. These investments will have a more sustainable impact when they are crafted to foster peace, justice and inclusion as an integral part of their health, humanitarian, economic, or security objectives.
We call on member states to mainstream conflict sensitive and risk informed approaches that are people-centered and promote long-term sustainable peace in all funding for crisis response and development, and in that spirit to support the upcoming UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Financing for Peacebuilding.
• Prioritize inclusion and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The inclusion and participation of all people is vital, including women, youth, minorities, indigenous peoples, and those with disabilities.
This year has been witness to a deeper focus on entrenched and systemic patterns of intersectional exclusion, including racism, as highlighted in the establishment of a Permanent Forum on People of African Descent. We support OHCHR’s Agenda Towards Transformative Change for Racial Justice and Equality. The bedrock of sustainable development is inclusion, and it is just as important amid crisis where engaging local capacities and perspectives is critical.
• Step away from securitized responses. This month marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The horror of that moment stays with us, and we continue to grieve. And we also grieve for all the lives lost since then. The preoccupation with counterterrorism has not made the world any safer. We have seen increasingly militarized and violent reactions to political dissent, the normalization of torture and extrajudicial killing, and international relations determined more by the perceived security needs of a few, rather than the right to peace and development of the many.
Violence is never the answer. As our communities are ever more buffeted by change, governments must protect civic space, become more accountable and inclusive, and respect international humanitarian and human rights law.

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