End to use of schools for mily purposes stressed

Pajhwok Afghan News, November 20, 2012

KABUL (PAN): A global coalition on Tuesday urged soldiers and fighters not to use schools and other education institutions for military purposes during wartime, something that endangers students and education around the world.

In a study released today, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack said schools were used for barracks, logistics bases, operational headquarters, weapons and ammunition caches, detention and interrogation centers, firing and observation positions.

Diya Nijhowne, director of the New York-based organisation, said: “The moment troops establish a base inside a school, they can turn it into a target for attack. When soldiers use schools and universities they are often putting their own convenience over the safety of students.”

The 77-page study called for countries around the world to adopt policies and laws restricting military forces and armed groups from using schools and other institutions during times of armed conflict.

Over the past seven years, the study found that armed forces and groups used education institutions in at least 24 countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, India, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Uganda and Yemen.

“When countries go to war, education facilities usually end up on the battlefield,” Nijhowne remarked. “Governments need to send a clear message that even during times of armed conflict, access to a safe education should be a priority and armed forces need to respect students’ right to education.”