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Attacks on Somali Students, Teachers and Schools

Attacks on Somali Students, Teachers and Schools Draw Condemnation From UN

United Nations aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in strife-torn Somalia have condemned recent attacks on students, teachers and schools in the capital, Mogadishu, stressing that educational facilities must be violence-free zones.

In a recent incident, five children and two teachers were wounded in an attack on two primary schools, and two teachers were reportedly gunned down on Monday.

“Any attack on children, teachers and education facilities is unacceptable,” said the group, which comprises over 20 UN agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO.

The agencies have appealed to traditional leaders, religious groups and other stakeholders to ensure the protection of children and teachers and the safety of school facilities.

They noted that education is fundamental to the rehabilitation of children in the Horn of Africa nation that has been plagued by conflict ever since Muhammad Siad Barre’s government was toppled in 1991.

Stressing that schools must be violence-free zones, the group called on all parties to the conflict to ensure the unhindered and safe passage of schoolchildren and teachers to educational facilities.

The latest attacks occurred just as schools were re-opening after the holidays and at a time when the provision of education in Somalia is already severely affected by drought, insecurity and economic crises.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke out today about the violence and humanitarian suffering in Somalia, telling journalists at a press conference in New York that the international community needs to do more to help the country.

“Somalia cannot be abandoned,” he said. “Since coming into office I have insisted on a stronger response. The recent Djibouti agreement [on peace in Somalia] reached under the auspices of my Special Representative is encouraging. But to consolidate this process we need to deploy an international force. And Member States must strengthen the current AU force on the ground.”

In a related development, the World Bank has approved a $7 million grant to boost crop and livestock production in rural areas hit hard by drought and the global food crisis. The grant will be managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Emergency Operations unit for Somalia, based in neighbouring Kenya.

“We are responding collectively with the World Bank and other agencies to avert a crisis that continues to deteriorate at a rate and severity that we have not seen in over 15 years,” said Graham Farmer, Officer in Charge of FAO Somalia.

Last month UN agencies warned that more than three million Somalis – or roughly half the country’s population – will be totally dependent of food aid and emergency assistance over the next 12 months.


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