23 June 2021 - Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN: Thousands of children losing access to education as schools are caught in crossfire in escalation of violence

Statement from Save the Children

After the burning of dozens of schools and with six children injured today in the eastern province of Nangarhar when an unexploded mortar shell went off, Save the Children is calling for all parties in the escalating conflict in Afghanistan to abide by international humanitarian law and ensure children and schools do not become collateral damage.

Save the Children last week in Kandahar, a province in southern Afghanistan, found about 25 schools damaged in one district alone, potentially preventing almost 28,000 students from returning to their classrooms when they reopen. While schools are currently closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the country, they must be protected as safe spaces for children, it warned.

A number of schools were burned to the ground in the northern province of Faryab, including a school supported by Save the Children which was destroyed by rockets and stray bullets on 22 June.

Mohammad Moradi, the headmaster of the school, said:

“Our school had 947 students and 18 teachers, and Save the Children helped us with textbooks and facilities for hand washing. Unfortunately, our school building is now gone.”

Athena Rayburn, Director of Advocacy and Media at Save the Children Afghanistan said:

“Children in Afghanistan have already endured the trauma of war for too long. The destruction of these schools is a violation of Afghan children’s rights and will prevent them from being able to return to school - the only chance they have for a better future. Children play no part in conflict and yet, as is too often the case, they are paying the price for this escalating violence. The hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children are being destroyed.

“All parties to the conflict must ensure the protection of children and schools. Children and the places that provide them with safe haven must never become collateral damage”

Notes to editors:
Save the Children has been working in Afghanistan since 1976 to deliver lasting change to the lives of children across the country. We have provincial offices in Kabul, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Kunduz, Jawzjan, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Faryab. We work closely with children, parents, teachers, village councils, religious leaders, government ministries, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders. Our programmes focus on education, health and nutrition, child protection, food security and livelihood, and humanitarian response.

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