There has been an alarming spike in attacks on schools and education centers in the North- and South-West of Cameroon, UNICEF said today.
Since the resumption of the school year less than a month ago, there have been multiple reports of kidnappings, harassment and killings affecting students and teachers.
At least 6 students and 11 teachers were kidnapped, school premises were set ablaze and an unknown number of students and education staff were humiliated and harassed in various schools in Kumbo (Bui division), Fundong (Boyo division) and Limbe (Fako division).
These latest reports follow news that in Kumba, in the southwestern region, 9 students were killed, some as young as 9 years, and several others were injured in an attack on a school on 24 October.
“These attacks are unacceptable,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Schools are places of learning where children should feel safe and protected. We call on all parties to protect all children, at school or in their communities and to uphold the principles of the Safe Schools Declaration, which calls for stopping attacks on schools, education facilities and personnel.”
There were 35 attacks on schools in the unstable regions of Cameroon in 2019, according to UNICEF-verified data. This compares to 17 attacks so far this year, a decrease that might be attributed to COVID-related school closures between March and June.
“More than 1.1 million children are out of school in Cameroon. This number is expected to rise as parents and communities fear sending their children to school lest they are attacked on their way to or while they are at school. The children of Cameroon deserve better. Every missed opportunity for learning today, will prevent children from realizing their full potential and to become active and productive citizens of the future,” Poirier said.