Afghanistan: UN expert voices outrage as number of attacks on Afghan schools leaps

9 August 2006 –

The number of attacks by terrorist groups against Afghan schools during the first half of this year was almost three times the level for the whole of 2005, prompting a United Nations expert on the right to education to express his “profound condemnation” and to voice concern that girls are suffering the most from the terrorists’ campaign.

Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said in a statement issued yesterday that the attacks have killed many children, forced numerous schools to close down and resulted in hundreds of thousands of children missing out on attending classes.

Between January and June this year, there were at least 172 recorded attacks on schools, compared with 60 violent incidents for all of last year, Mr. Muñoz Villalobos said. As many as 500,000 children may now be unable to go to school because of those attacks.

“I am appalled that anyone would target children and their teachers,” he said, calling for an immediate halt to the campaign being conducted by anti-government groups.

The rapporteur said Afghanistan’s girls are suffering the most, even though both girls’ and boys’ schools seem to have been targeted indiscriminately.

“The attacks have a disproportionate impact on girls because of the lower number of girls’ schools and the particular reluctance of parents to expose their daughters to insecure schools and schools’ areas,” he said.

Mr. Muñoz Villalobos urged the Afghan Government to intensify its efforts to protect the security of school buildings and the safety of students, teachers and other school personnel.

Special rapporteurs are unpaid experts serving in an independent personal capacity who received their mandate from the defunct UN Commission in Human Rights and will now report to the newly established and enhanced Human Rights Council.

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