April 14, 2015

Video: one year after Chibok, it’s time to #BringBackOurGirls and end attacks on schools

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

As the world marks one year since the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria, A World at School has produced a new video which highlights the horrific scale of attacks on schools.

We are also demanding urgent action to end violence towards schoolchildren and for the immediate release of the 219 Chibok girls still being held by Boko Haram.

We hope you will share the video through social media and also sign the #UpForSchool Petition - a call to world leaders to ensure that all children are safe from violence and discrimination for wanting to learn, no matter where they live.

Last year attacks on schools and school children were at the highest levels in 40 years. On April 14, 2014, the world was outraged by the mass abduction in Chibok.

Chibok girls in video released by Boko Haram

Abducted Chibok girls in a video released by Boko Haram

Four months later at least 187 government schools were damaged during the Gaza conflict.

In December, 130 students and 10 teachers were killed in a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.  And just one month ago 89 boys were abducted as they sat an exam in their South Sudan school. They were allegedly forced to become child soldiers, joining an estimated 12,000 others.

United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said: “It is horrific that the girls have spent an entire year captive away from their families, just because they wanted an education and to learn.

"This has been a devastating year for schoolchildren. Not since World War II have so many girls and boys become refugees across so many borders. Never outside the context of world wars have schools in so many countries been subject to so many terror attacks - 10,000 in only five years.” 

Child at damaged Gaza school

A child outside a school damaged during the Gaza conflict last year

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the abduction of children, including from their school, is becoming a tactic of war that requires a robust response. The time has come for abductions to trigger all the tools developed by the United Nations Security Council.

"We have seen similar situations with other violations that have resulted in sanctions, urgent mediation and full diplomatic actions. We need to see this happen with the abductions of school girls and boys."

A World at School is calling on people to add their voices to the #UpForSchool Petition and for the UN Security Council to take urgent action to protect children from attacks and abductions at schools. We want fundamental actions to strengthen the defence of the rights of schoolgirls and boys, including:

  • The immediate release of the 219 girls abducted from Chibok one year ago and the 89 boys abducted in South Sudan
  • The Security Council will adopt a resolution so that the act of abductions of children will in the future trigger a party of conflict to be ‘listed’ by the United Nations Secretary-General resulting in action by the international community, such as urgent diplomatic action, mediation, sanctions and rehabilitation of boys and girls.
  • All governments to support a new Declaration on Safe Schools led by the Norwegian Government, declaring attacks on schools, colleges and universities are crimes against humanity
  • Funding for schools in conflict situations and fragile states to be increased as currently only 1% of humanitarian aid is spent on education

Child soldiers released in South Sudan in February

Mr Brown added: “It is time for us to end the shameful breaches of international law that violate the rights of millions of children by calling a halt to the militarisation of schools, stopping the now-growing abduction of school pupils as weapons of war and insisting - even in conflict zones - that properly resourced "safe schools" enable children to enjoy their education in peace.

 "At the start of the millennium, the world, through the UN, made a promise to children. We pledged that no matter where they were from, they would all have an education and an opportunity in life. Safety and protection should automatically be a part of that.”

Read coverage of the vigils and marches held to mark the Chibok abductions anniversary.

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