War affecting children’s access to health, education: UN
In a joint report, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and UNICEF said the war-related violence was taking a toll on health and education personnel.
Children’s access to essential health and education services have been limited, according to the report, which covers the three-year period from January 2013 to December 2015.
“The report’s findings are deeply troubling. It is simply unacceptable for teachers, doctors and nurses to be subjected to violence or threats, and for schools and medical facilities to be misused or attacked,” said the secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan,
“All parties must take measures to protect education and health services in Afghanistan,” Nicholas Haysom said in the report, titled ‘Education and Healthcare at Risk – Key trends and incidents affecting children’s access to healthcare and education in Afghanistan.’
Last year, the UN documented 125 incidents affecting access to healthcare, compared to 59 in 2014, including 20 health workers killed, 43 injured and 66 abducted.
As many as 132 conflict-related incidents affecting access to education and education-related personnel were also documented, including 11 education personnel killed, 15 injured and 49 abducted-- showing a sharp increase over 2014 figures.
Of the 257 incidents documented in 2015, the majority comprised of threats and intimidation, an increase of 182 per cent compared to 2014, the report added.
The intimidation included: death threats; assaults of health and education personnel; forced closures of schools; letters prohibiting attendance, particularly against girls; extortion, etc.
Improvised explosive devices were detonated near schools and clinics, killing and injuring healthcare and education personnel, the report said.
UNICEF Representative AkhilIyersaid: “In 2015 children increasingly struggled to access health and education services due to insecurity and conflict-related violence, further exacerbated by high levels of chronic poverty…”
Conflict-related violence resulted in the partial or complete closure of more than 369 schools in 2015, affecting over 139,000 students and 600 teachers. It noted explicit prohibitions imposed to restrict girls’ education.
“Conflict-related violence not only puts Afghan children at risk of harm, but also limits their fundamental rights to education and healthcare,” said Danielle Bell, UNAMA human rights director.
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