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Act to Protect Schools and Hospitals in Situations of Armed Conflict

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Statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

New York, 2 November 2020 - "We are continuing to witness the dramatic impact on children of indiscriminate attacks on education and health facilities, and humanitarian personnel in situations of armed conflict," said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba.

"Incidents in Cameroon, Libya, Pakistan and other countries affected by armed conflict, have once again children paying the highest price and the COVID-19 pandemic has put an additional burden on them, their families and communities all over the world. In Afghanistan, indiscriminate attacks on schools, universities and other educational facilities are taking place despite the beginning of historic peace talks. In Libya, the few functional health facilities engaged in the COVID-19 response in Tripoli and Benghazi were repeatedly hit and damaged by shelling. Last week in Cameroon, several children were reportedly killed and several others wounded when a school was attacked in the South-West Region, and in Somalia attacks against schools and hospitals by Al-Shabaab continue at an alarming rate, often in conjunction with other grave violations, such as the abduction and recruitment of children," she added.

"Now more than ever we must all act to protect children and support all international efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly in situations of armed conflict. Parties to conflict, whether governmental forces or non-State armed groups, must keep schools and hospitals safe and not use them for military purposes. I join the UN Secretary-General in his appeal for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world and, once again, call upon all parties to conflict to abide by their obligations under international law and prevent attacks against education and health facilities, as well as other civilian infrastructure and protected personnel."

"Lastly, I remind all States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and join this important global initiative to, interalia strengthening the prevention of, and response to, attacks on education during armed conflict," she added.

For additional information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / vinet@un.org