Urgent to Protect Schools from Military Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic – SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict

Ensuring the protection of schools and education as the world addresses the COVID-19 pandemic is of utmost importance reminds the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

Reaffirming the calls for a global ceasefire made by the Security Council (SCR 2532) on 1 July and by the Secretary-General on 23 March, the Special Representative further warns that schools are more than ever viewed as strategic assets in several conflict situations and could be instrumentalized as part of hostilities.

“With schools’ closure or the shift to alternative learning options as a result of the pandemic, it remains fundamental to preserve the civilian character of schools, as necessary to the protection of children living amidst conflict,” said Virginia Gamba. More than a billion children are currently out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic according to UNESCO.

The Special Representative encourages parties to conflict to take all the necessary measures to protect schools and education from attacks and to prevent the military use of schools. In this context, she welcomes the military directive to protect schools and education issued earlier this week by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) prohibiting the military use of schools by its forces and calls on all parties to conflict to follow this example and issue similar command orders.

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© Article: United Nations Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict – Image: UNICEF