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Saturday, December 4, 2021

‘Schools should never be targeted’: EAA urges compensation for victims of attacks on education


EAA’s call comes amid concerns over growing violence against students, teachers, and educational institutions. 

Education Above All (EAA) has called for reparations and compensation for victims of attacks on education, in a statement released to mark the UN International Day for the Protection of Education from Attack.

The Qatari education foundation made the call ahead of a high-level virtual event taking place on Thursday to mark the annual commemoration, following a dramatic surge in attacks on education in 2020.

According to the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, over 11,000 armed attacks were reported against schools and universities in the past five years alone. 

The increase was unexpected as schools have been closed for almost all year long due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“According to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) – of which EAA is a founding member – there were 2,400 documented attacks on education in 2020, a 33% increase since 2019,” stated the foundation. 

Chairperson of EAA and UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, noted in a statement that “attacks on education around the world are increasing each year, depriving millions of young people of a future.”

She said that “the students and staff who are killed or injured in these attacks are not collateral damage; they are victims of deliberate attacks, targeted in the very spaces where they should be safe to learn and teach. It is time for the international community to move beyond calls for accountability and to work on concrete ways to stop attacks.”

Read also: ‘Education is our weapon’: EAA’s students of Gaza reveal horrors of life under occupation

EAA highlighted that violent attacks on education or students are considered criminal acts by international law, noting perpetrators must be required to pay reparations and compensation to victims.

“EAA advocates for the enforcement of these international rules to ensure justice for victims of attacks on education,” it said in a statement. 

Titled ‘Protect Education for Sustainable Peace’, Thursday’s event will focus on issues regarding accountability and justice for victims of violent attacks that target education. 

“Co-organised by EAA, the Qatar Mission to the United Nations, UNICEF, UNESCO and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, the day will bring together Global and UN leaders, youth advocates, policy makers and academics to discuss how to protect education and build sustainable peace.”

Meanwhile, rulers and advocates around the world shared the message, including Vice President of the Republic of El Salvador and Kuwait’s Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, among other international advocates.

“EAA’s appeal to the global community comes as part of its three-year #UniteToProtect global campaign to end education on attacks through the collection of data on attacks as a basis for evidence generation, accountability, grassroots advocacy and sustainable peace-building,” the foundation noted. 

The meeting brings together the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the heads of UNICEF and UNESCO, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan, the President of the ICRC, Presidents, Prime Ministers and senior government officials from over 10 countries, including Niger, Guinea, Venezuela, Croatia, Turkey, Finland, the Ukraine, and the State of Palestine.

Youth from countries and regions directly affected by attacks on education will also be present.

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