Syrian school bombing should be investigated as a war crime says Gordon Brown

Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Gordon Brown

The UN Special Envoy for Global Education branded the atrocity in Idlib province as "the latest descent into barbarism" in the Syrian conflict.

Air strikes on a Syrian school that killed more than 20 children and several teachers should be investigated as a war crime, Gordon Brown insisted today.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Global education branded yesterday’s atrocity in Idlib province as “the latest descent into barbarism” in the Syrian conflict.

Brown said the bombing of a school complex in the village of Hass was the worst of 98 attacks on Syrian schools in the past two years.

At a UN briefing in New York, he said: “I am calling on the Security Council to immediately agree that the International Criminal Court prosecutor conduct an investigation into what I believe is a war crime – with the intention that, if proven, the perpetrators will be hunted down and the case against them prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.”

He said the fact Russia has for the first time called for an investigation into an attack opened the door for a full-scale probe. 

He said the investigation should include “what is happening in Syrian schools and in Syria as a whole”.

Brown also used the briefing to announce more details of funding to provide education in some of the world’s worst war zones, including Syria.

He said $15 million will go to children’s education inside Syria – some of which can be used to benefit the children in Idlib – as part of a $42 million investment to deliver hope to 1.5 million children.

The UN envoy said there are now 30 million displaced children throughout the world – the largest number since the 1940s.

Brown said abuses of children this year include:

  • Torture, executions and sexual violations of children near Mosul, Iraq
  • Yazidi girls in Iraq raped, sold and trafficked
  • Young refugees in Turkey forced into child labour producing branded textile garments for western markets
  • A doubling of child marriage in refugee camps in the Middle East 

The Education Cannot Wait fund was launched in May to help provide schooling for children living in humanitarian emergencies, including conflicts and natural disasters.

Brown revealed details of the $42 million funding, which had been announced last month. It includes the $15 million for Syria, which will improve access to quality and safe education for 65,000 children.

Another $15 million for Yemen will provide safe schooling, new textbooks and other supplies to more than 1.2 million students in the areas most affected by the conflict.

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