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24.03.2022

Afghanistan: Right of Millions of Girls to Education Must be Respected

Joint statement by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba and on Violence against Children, Dr Najat Maalla M’jid

“Today is a dark day for millions of girls in Afghanistan, who have been told that they aren’t allowed to pursue their education and their dreams.”

“This week was supposed to be a joyful one as it marked the return to schools for millions of children in Afghanistan. The excitement was cut short for girl students entering sixth grade and above, whose education has been suspended until further notice by the Taliban.”

“This decision is depriving at least one million Afghan girls of their most fundamental right to education. The deprivation of education is, in itself, a form of violence against girls. It is an immense loss for Afghanistan. With that decision, it is the country as a whole that is losing their youth, their talent and resilient energy”, the UN Officials said.

More than 1,600 schools remained closed country wide as of 15 August 2021 because of general insecurity in Afghanistan, some of which have been closed since 2010. Attacks on schools and hospitals remain a serious concern with more than 100 attacks verified by the United Nations in 2021.

“We remind the Taliban and all relevant parties that they remain bound by international human rights law and international humanitarian law which promote access to education for all children and prohibit attacks on civilian infrastructures including schools and hospitals. The Taliban must commit to the protection of children in Afghanistan, including by complying with international standards and respect the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which defines a child as any human being under the age of 18 and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC)”, the two UN Officials urged.

“Today, we call on the Taliban and all parties to uphold the rights of children, including the rights of all girls to education, and to ensure that education for all is free from violence, threats, closures and attacks.  A safe and inclusive education for all children,  girls and boys,  is key for building peaceful, just and inclusive societies, ” they stressed.