The bomb attack on Saturday which targeted a school in Afghanistan, killing scores of students between the ages of 11 and 15, has been condemned in the strongest terms by two senior UN officials.
UN Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and on Violence Against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, said in a joint statement that the terrorists “must be held accountable” for their “heinous crime”.
According to news reports, scores of were killed and hundreds of others injured when a bomb exploded near a girls’ school in the mostly Shiite district of west Kabul on Saturday.
The UN officials also called on the Afghan authorities to urgently protect the right to education in armed conflict, especially for girls, which is too often overlooked and neglected.
“In many contexts, access to education is particularly harsh for girls for economic and cultural reasons, but also for security reasons of which the recent attack in Afghanistan is only one latest tragic example,” the UN officials said.
Pushing for the safety of schools, the UN officials said “that girls just like boys are given equal opportunities to pursue their education”.
Afghanistan schools and hospitals remain one of the most attacked institutions in the country, according to the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict.
Preliminary data for 2020 also show a similar worrying trend, with COVID-19 further exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children, including girls.
“Girls may not be given the choice to go back to school when they reopen, because they had to work or be married off to support their families,” said the two UN officials.
Against the backdrop of the unremitting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they stressed that “countries must make the strategic decision of prioritizing education, including in armed conflict in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reaching the furthest behind”.
The UN officials said that targeting girls undermines the crucial role that educated girls and women play in the social and economic development of their societies.
The Special Representatives underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan and achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
They also extended their condolences to the victim’s families and the Government of Afghanistan and wished a full recovery to those who were injured in the horrific terrorist attack. (Source: UN News)