The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday released its annual report on Afghanistan for 2014, citing that 163 schools and 38 health care centers were attacked in the country in 2014 either by militant groups or government forces.
Amid UNICEF’s constant appeals to warring sides to protect public utility institutions, it seems that these attacks have increased against schools and health centers.
Based on the UNICEF report, in 2014 163 schools and 38 health centers were targeted which brings the country to the top of the list. Second was Syria with 60 attacks on schools and 28 attacks on health care centers. Two attacks on schools recorded in Yemen while 543 training centers in Palestine were also affected between 2012 and 2014.
UNICEF has slammed the discriminatory approach adopted against children in conflict-hit regions of the world, saying that children in conflict zones must be treated like children of New York.
“Four schools and hospitals are attacked every day and its shocking and has devastating impacts on children and they are becoming targets by military groups or government forces. And also different countries from Afghanistan to Syria to northern Nigeria and there is no reason for this in this war situation. Schools and hospitals are meant to protected under international humanitarian law,” a UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said.
Based on the report, UNICEF Afghanistan supported the Ministry of Education (MoE) to strengthen its capacity in education in emergencies and provided teaching and learning materials to 38 schools affected by floods and landslides in the northern regions.
The report illustrates that overall more than 500 schools have been closed down in Afghanistan particularity in southern provinces.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government has accused armed opponents of targeting schools, saying that government plans to take steps and reopen these schools to the Afghan pupils to continue their education.
“The people know that who really targets the schools, bridges and hospitals of this country, the armed opponents must stop doing this and stop damaging public utility institutions,” deputy presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said.
In addition, officials of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) have expressed deep concerns over a rise in attacks against health workers.
“Doctors are the ambassadors of peace and there is no discrimination in treatment of the patients wherever they belong. Therefore we appeal to the armed opponents to avoid harming public assets so that people benefit from the services,” advisor to the minister of health, Khawja Qamaraduddin Sediqqi said.
UNICEF is set to convene an important meeting in Turkey where the delegates will focus on addressing the challenges facing education and training sectors in the conflict-hit nations.
Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan will represent Afghanistan at the meeting.
To watch the report, click here: