Save the Children condemns attack outside a school in Thailand’s south, says children and schools must be “off limits” to armed groups

Save the Children, September 6, 2016
For immediate release
Tuesday 6th September 2016 – Save the Children is urging greater protection of children and education institutions following a deadly attack outside a school in Tak Bai District in Thailand’s south this morning.  Thai media reported that a father and his four-year-old daughter were killed in front of their school, while at least eight people were injured.

“It is of the utmost importance that children do not become victims of violent acts carried out by armed groups,” Save the Children Country Director in Thailand, Allison Zelkowitz said.

Children must be protected from violent attacks at all times, and schools and the areas surrounding schools should be universally agreed to as being off limits to armed groups and free from attack.

The violence in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkla began several decades ago, but over the last 10 years tensions have escalated and several attacks have killed or injured children.

“This bombing is a violation of a child’s right to safety and protection, and follows a series of violent attacks in the south of Thailand that directly or indirectly affect children,” Ms Zelkowitz.

“Not only has a school girl been killed this morning, but this attack will no doubt also create a sense of fear and uncertainty among children and families in the area. Attacks involving children are simply unacceptable and must not be tolerated.”

Globally, one in four children between the ages of 6 and 15 living in conflict areas are missing out on their education. School children, university students, teachers, academics, and education establishments have been targets of attack in at least 70 countries including Thailand, between 2009 and 2013.

Save the Children is urging all countries to endorse the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, which aim to instil a voluntary shift in behaviour within countries in order to better protect educational facilities, staff, and students from attack. Thailand is yet to endorse the guidelines.

For all media inquiries contact Paeng Chandravithun, Communications and Media Coordinator, Save the Children on +66818063299 or paeng.chandravithun@savethechildren.org.
Notes to Editor:

–          From January to December 2015, attacks on education continued in Southern Thailand despite increased dialogue between the government and armed groups. According to the 2015 UN Secretary General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict, on 11 September, a bomb exploded near the entrance of a community school in Pattani province, injuring five students between 3 and 15 years of age. Source: Children and Armed Conflict, Report of the Secretary General, United Nations General Assembly Security Council, pg. 34, 20 April 2016, https://reliefweb.int/report/world/children-and-armed-conflict-report-secretary-general-a70836-s2016360-enar.

–          As of November 2015, two teachers and one student had been killed, and one teacher and two students had been injured by attacks by armed groups. According to the UN, a total of four children were killed and 15 were injured in shootings and bombings in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala Provinces in 2015. This is a significant decrease from 2014, where 23 children were killed and 65 were injured from such attacks. In January 2016, the government reported that an armed group was training children as young as 13 in Narathiwat province. Additionally, the UN continued to receive reports of children being detained for alleged associations with armed groups.

–          According to UNICEF’s 2014 Thailand Case Study in Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion, 57 different incidents in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were reported, resulting in the death of 23 children and maiming of 65.