Attacks on schools in Afghanistan almost tripled in 2018, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF warned Tuesday.
The number of incidents rose from 68 in 2017 to 192 last year — the first time an increase has been recorded since 2015.
“Education is under fire in Afghanistan,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. “The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children.”
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One possible reason behind the rise in attacks, according to the UN agency, is that school buildings served as polling centers during last year’s parliamentary elections.
UNICEF said around 3.7 million Afghan children — about half the country’s school-age population — were missing out on formal education. About 60% of them were girls. It also said security threats from groups such as the Taliban and the “Islamic State” have forced more than 1,000 schools across the country to remain closed.
The security situation in many parts of Afghanistan remains precarious, with the Taliban in control of almost half the country’s districts. The group ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001 before being removed from power in a US-led invasion.
US officials have been attempting to broker a peace agreement between the militants and the government in Kabul since October. Negotiators say a draft accord has been reached on a withdrawal of US forces in return for the Taliban breaking with militant groups such as al-Qaida. But so far there has been little progress on establishing a ceasefire or getting the two sides to sit down together for talks.
nm/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)