Idlib, Syria: Cluster alarmed over increase in attacks on schools as ten hit in one day

Education Cluster, February 26, 2020

The Education Cluster is alarmed over reports of the death of a student and three teachers after 10 schools were attacked in a single day in North West Syria yesterday.

Reports indicate that on 25th February 2020 in Idlib, at least one girl and nine civilians, including three school teachers, were killed and dozens of children, at least seven teachers and other civilians injured by the shelling of ten schools. In one school sheltering displaced people, four people were killed and 15 injured. Most of the attacks took place during school hours.

Twenty-two schools have now been reportedly attacked since the start of 2020 – nearly half of them in one day. Information is still being received and verified.

Attacks on Syrian schools continue. During 2019, there were at least 157 attacks on Syrian schools, 85 per cent were in Idlib and 76 per cent of all attacks were by airstrike or shelling. Attacks on schools have the immediate effect of killing and maiming students, school personnel and nearby civilians and damaging or destroying schools. In the longer term attacks on schools make children frightened to go to school, parents afraid to send their children to school and school personnel fearful. Attacks, and fear of attack, contribute to the overall toxic stress and loss that communities in conflicts are expected to endure.

Children should be able to learn, and school personnel should be able to work, without fear, death or injury. Attacks on education undermine and prevent children from exercising their right to education as cemented in international human right treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Attacks on education may violate international humanitarian and criminal law.

The Education Cluster is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. All sides must respect International Humanitarian Law, particularly the principle of proportionality, and protect schools, hospitals and other vital civilian infrastructure from attack. Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of explosive weapons, and warring parties should make a particular effort to protect them.