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(Armed conflicts and their impact on education in Sahel countries )

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Saturday, June 5, 2021

Press release

(Armed conflicts and their impact on education in Sahel countries )

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The African Studies Unit of the Dialogue Forum for Development and Human Rights on June 5, 2021 issued a report entitled “Armed conflicts and their impact on education in The Sahel countries.”

The report stressed that insecurity and armed conflicts affect education in many ways, and from its harm to students and staff from threats or psychological and physical harm as well as the displacement of the population from within or outside the borders of the State, as well as the recruitment of children into the armies of states or even in armed groups of non-States. Furthermore, these conflicts lead to the destruction of educational facilities or their use as training fields.

The report stresses that international human rights law, as well as international humanitarian law, provide the protection of education and guaranteed the right to education at any time, whether in conditions of insecurity or armed conflict, and as a legally binding right enshrined in both regional and international treaties, that States must take the necessary measures to protect education.

With regard to the United Nations and the protection of the right to education in circumstances of armed conflict and insecurity, the report stated that the United Nations Centre for Human Rights Training and Documentation had organized, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Protection of Education in Conflict and Insecurity, a forum entitled “Protecting the right to education in conditions of armed conflict and insecurity in Africa, the main objective of the forum was to protect the right to education in conditions of insecurity through several measures, as stated in the Report.

With regard to the protection of education in the African framework of human rights, the report explained that article (17) of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights stipulates with regard to the right to education that “the right to education is guaranteed to all, the state must protect educational institutions, everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of society, and to promote public ethics and traditional values recognized by society and protect it is the duty of the State to preserve human rights. .

The report also indicated that school and university students and teachers were attacked by non-State armed groups and government armed forces for several reasons, and that educational facilities were being utilized by these forces for military purposes, according to the report.

With regard to the impact of the education system in some Sahel countries due to armed conflicts, the report revealed the humanitarian situation and the status of education in those countries, as follows:

Nigeria:

The report said that nearly 85% of adults cannot read or write, and Boko Haram is constantly targeting schools, affecting the educational movement in the country, where more than 40% of students are currently absent. Boko Haram was also responsible for the kidnapping of students in the northeast of the country where in the school of Shibok more than  200 students were kidnapped and 300 others were kidnapped from another school in the state of Zamafra in northwestern Nigeria,  and 27 more students were also abducted from a school in north-central Niger.

Niger:

With regard to the State of Niger, the report stated that due to the recent rise in violence in the border area between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, 1,478 schools had been closed.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the authorities are building huts to be used as schools where child students sometimes sit on the ground and these huts are prone to fires as they are built of flammable materials and indeed there has been more than one fire, the last of which was April 11, 2021, and 20 children were killed after a fire broke out at their school near Niamey, capital of Niger.

Mali:

In Mali, the report showed that 1,260 schools were closed in 2020 in central Mali, where schools are used for military purposes and children forcibly recruited into armed terrorist groups, depriving more than 150,000 children of their right to education, according to THE UN mission, and more than 900 schools remain closed due to insecurity in the country.

In 2018, a terrorist group set fire to the Mopti school, vowing further attacks against schools that do not adhere to the Teaching of the Qur’an, and UN statistics show that twice as many girls as boys in countries experiencing internal conflicts are losing access to education. Only 38% of girls complete their primary education.

The report concluded with a number of recommendations from the most important

§        Trying to address the issues of poverty and unemployment, income inequality, wealth and religious persecution as these conditions promote extremism and make joining armed groups an easy choice for many young people on that continent.

§        Work to establish a higher policy that brings together states with conflicts to bridge the gap between international and regional law.

§        Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union to create peace and security by resorting to the United Nations for logistical, financial and military support if necessary,

§        Provide more peacekeeping elements in the region to protect people who are attacked every day.

§        Evaluating laws and policies that protect education in different countries in the Middle East.

§        Investigate allegations of violations of domestic and international law and prosecute perpetrators when they are required.

§        Seeking continued education during armed conflict.

§        Support the UN’s activities on the children’s agenda and armed conflicts.

§        The African Union Peace and Security Council has established a high-level special committee to resolve armed conflicts in Africa in general and the Sahel countries in particular.

§        Providing assistance to conflict-affected countries.

§        To remedy failures to protect human beings and their right to education, and to make education a force for peace.

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