Virtual Event to Mark International Day to Protect Education from Attack

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09-Sep-2020 03:43:26
A commemorative high-level virtual event organized by the State of Qatar, UNESCO, UNICEF and Education Above All Foundation to mark the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack.

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Education is a fundamental human right and an essential driver for peace and development, yet armed attacks targeting teachers, students and education facilities are on the rise, with some 11,000 incidents reported between 2015 and 2019, the UN Secretary-General shared the startling figure in his address during the event.

“These attacks simply must not continue,” he declared.

“I urge all United Nations Member States to ensure the provision of education for all, even in times of conflict, and particularly for the most vulnerable, such as refugees and displaced persons”, he stated.

With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing inequalities and injustices, the UN chief emphasized that recovery must prove to be an opportunity to build a better world.

 “The pandemic has shed an important light on the fault lines running through our societies.  One of these is unequal access to education”, he said.

“As we work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the coming decade, we must ensure no one is left behind.  For that, we need quality education for all, and safe places for students to learn.” 

The President of the UN General Assembly outlined the magnitude of the problem, noting that most incidents involve direct attacks on schools, including arson, ground and airstrikes, raids, looting and use of explosive devices.

“We are witnessing the military occupation of schools which causes the campus to lose civilian status, thus facing threats of attack as a lawful military target”, said Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

Reaffirming Belgium’s commitment to protecting education from attack, Philippe Goffin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defense of the Kingdom of Belgium, underscored that the fight against impunity is a cornerstone of Belgium’s foreign policy and that the Belgian presidency of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on the Children and Armed Conflict is fully in line with this commitment.

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, highlighted multiple initiatives that UNICEF has sponsored to provide mental, sanitation and hygiene support to children affected by armed conflicts and urged all countries to step up distance learning through programs like GIGA and Generation Unlimited to ensure education opportunities delivered to all children.

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International Day to Protect Education from Attack
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