UN: Protection of schools essential to boost access to education in Africa - UN envoy

New York, US (PANA) - Protecting schools from attacks and military use is essential to ensuring access to education for all children in Africa,  UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui said on Tuesday.

Ms. Zerrougui also urged world leaders to use the upcoming World Humanitarian
Summit as an opportunity to generate new commitments to ensure that conflict does
not mean the end of learning for millions of children.

"Schools in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Mali,
Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, have been looted, pillaged, damaged and
destroyed during military operations, putting the future of an entire generation at risk,"
the UN envoy told the African Union's Peace and Security Council at its third annual
Open Session on children and armed conflict in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A UN statement on her presentation, issued in New York, quoted Ms. Zerrougui
as saying that the attacks against schools and their military use have become a
common aspect of today's conflicts, with long-term consequences, especially
on fragile education systems.

She noted the heavy burden placed on communities and post-conflict societies
to rebuild or repair schools and bring back skilled teachers.

"The African Union and its member States can and must make a difference by including measures to end and prevent attacks against schools in domestic legislation, including criminalization of these acts, and must hold perpetrators accountable," she said.

Ms. Zerrougu also called on AU member states to endorse the Safe School
Declaration, developed in 2015 through an inter-governmental political process,
and commit to implement the "Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities
from Military Use during Armed Conflict", which was adopted in December 2014.

The Declaration has already been endorsed by 15 African countries.

Ms. Zerrougui recalled that the international community has firmly put the
protection of schools on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and
urged governments to take action to realize that collective commitment.

The World Humanitarian Summit will be held on 23-24 May in Istanbul, Turkey.
-0-   PANA  AA/AR  10May2016

10 may 2016 18:12:44

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