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Press centre

Press release

Education under fire

NEW YORK / GENEVA, 29 JUNE 2007 – UNICEF today condemned continuing attacks on schoolchildren and educational facilities in conflict zones around the world.  "Attacks on schoolchildren are unacceptable,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Schools must be safe environments for children to learn and thrive.”

In recent weeks: two schoolgirls were killed, and another three students and a teacher were injured outside a girls' school in Afghanistan on 12 June; and one student traveling to national college entrance exams was killed, and in a separate incident another was injured, in crossfire in Gaza on 14 June.

In parts of Iraq parents remain justly concerned about the risks involved in sending their children to school, and insecurity has closed schools in the Central African Republic, in Nepal and in Sri Lanka. 

However this month has also provided evidence that where an education system continues to function, students will face real risks to take advantage of the opportunities that education provides. In the occupied Palestinian territory in June, some 60,000 students in both Gaza and the West Bank made it through 10 days of entrance exams, despite the current crisis.

"Children have the right to a safe learning environment at all times, even under the most difficult of circumstances," Veneman stated.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media New York, 917 582 7546, pmccormick@unicef.org
Rafael Hermoso, UNICEF Media New York, 212 326 7516, rhermoso@unicef.org
Veronique Taveau, UNICEF Media Geneva, Tel: +41 22 909 5716 vtaveau@unicef.org




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