Rights group calls for end to military use of schools
KABUL (Pajhwok): The military use of schools discourages student enrollment and increases teacher absenteeism, an international rights group said on Tuesday when President Ashraf Ghani rang in the new academic year.
Girlstudents often bore the brunt of disruptions because parents were wary of sending daughters to schools occupied by armed men, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.
Afghanistan needed to protect children and their future by implementing the Safe Schools Declaration it signed in 2015, the New York-based group said. The declaration commits the government to follow guidelines for protecting schools.
Last year, the United Nations verified 20 instances of military use of schools, 15 involving Afghan National Security Forces, including the army and police. The numbers are probably higher.
“Military use of schools can mean the occupation of a few classrooms or playgrounds, or a complete takeover of school facilities and grounds. In recent years, Afghan military forces have deployed weaponry in or around schools and used facilities as fixed firing positions.
“As a result, students are not only deprived of an education, they are also put at grave risk of attack by insurgents who then see schools as military targets,” the statement added.
According to HRW, schools in Afghanistan have frequently been attacked by the Taliban and other insurgents. The UN documented the closure of 222 schools in 2015 as a result of attacks and threats by insurgents.
At least 25 casualties among students and school staff were documented from incidents involving insurgents and government forces. The figures highlighted the real risk of schools becoming targets or battlefields, HRW said.
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