CAMEROON: JOINT STATEMENT OF UNICEF AND UNESCO ON ABDUCTION OF EDUCATION PERSONNEL AND ATTACKS AGAINST SCHOOLS IN THE SOUTH-WEST REGION OF CAMEROON

Yaounde, 1st June, 2018:  The Representative of UNICEF in Cameroon, Mr. Jacques Boyer, and the Director of the Regional Office of UNESCO for Central Africa and Representative for Cameroon, Mr. Salah Khaled, urge the kidnappers to release immediately ALL Education personnel who have been abducted in the South-West and North-West Regions of Cameroon.

UNICEF and UNESCO in Cameroon are therefore asking all stakeholders and leaders to immediately stop attacking schools, teachers and education officials and allow safe and unfettered return of all students to the classroom to continue with their studies and examinations.

From the start of the conflict in November 2016, schools in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon have been targeted. The prevailing security situation is deteriorating with a profound impact on academic activities. To date, 40 schools have been burned down. Approximately 33,000 students are not attending school for reasons of fear of security, attacks and abductions. Several schools did not function during the past two successive school years (2016-2017 and 2017-2018). Those that are functioning lack the required supplies and materials and have also experienced looting and destruction of the few items that are available. As a result, girls and boys are vulnerable to sexual and economic exploitation and domestic violence.

“I strongly condemn all killings and abductions of education workers and all acts of destruction of school infrastructure and violence perpetrated against students, schools and their staff”, said Mr. Salah Khaled.

“No intimidation whatsoever should be tolerated by all well-meaning partners that seek to promote the rights of children to quality education in a safe, protective and secure environment. No reason can be advanced to justify the un-warranted attacks on children in general and pupils who are seeking to acquire knowledge and skills to become useful citizens in the future in order to be able to contribute to the economic and social advancement of their country” declared Mr. Jacques Boyer.

We are calling on the Government of Cameroon and all stakeholders to endorse and adhere to the principles of the Safe Schools Declaration and ensure that they protect schools-facilities, teachers, children and other personnel who are exercising their right to education.

We come together to reaffirm that civilians (children, men and women), caught in the conflict and those who care for them are #NotATarget. We appeal to all stakeholders involved in this conflict to take action to protect them.