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  Afghanistan: UN envoy condemns burning of girls` schools   Comment 

www.IranDokht.com
2004-03-09

Tehran, March 9, IRNA -- As Afghanistan prepares to commemorate
International Women`s Day, the senior United Nations envoy to the
country Monday deplored recent violence against girls` schools --
institutions that were banned under the fallen Taliban regime, said a
press release issued by the United Nations Information Center here on
Tuesday.
"The Special Representative of the Secretary General for
Afghanistan Jean Arnault condemns the despicable attacks on girls`
schools that took place on March 2 in Farah and February 19 in
Badakhshan," spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters in
Kabul.
"Fortunately there were no casualties, but the attacks by
unidentified persons caused damage to school buildings, tents and
educational materials."
The spokesman said the `cowardly` violence was aimed at thwarting
reconstruction and development in Afghanistan against the wishes of
the country`s people. "The overwhelming majority of Afghans want their
children -- both boys and girls -- to be educated," he said.
"The mere fact that these communities have rallied around to save
their schools and condemn these and similar offenses in the past
should send a strong message to the perpetrators that their misguided
actions are obviously not deterring the desire for education amongst
ordinary people," the spokesman added.
During the burning, one school tent in Bala Bluk district in Farah
province was completely destroyed while the local community managed to
extinguish fires in three others. The Farah incident followed an arson
attack on February 19 against another girls` school in Badakhshan when
the main building of Shah Ba Ba Girl`s High School was set on fire.
Forty percent of that school was damaged, while classroom materials
were destroyed.
De Almeida e Silva hailed efforts by the UN Children`s Fund
(UNICEF) to provide replacements for the property lost in the attacks,
and pointed out that gender-based violence against schools is not
widespread, with fewer than 30 incidents reported out of 7,000
education centers.
Edward Carwardine, a spokesman for UNICEF, reported that more than
45,000 children -- over 80 percent of them girls -- have benefited
from special accelerated learning classes organized during the winter
school vacation.
The drive, backed by UNICEF, took place in five Afghan provinces
over the last three months, providing students who missed out on
learning with rapid `catch-up` classes to help them join the correct
grade when the new academic term begins on March 22.
"The program is especially important for girls, many of whom
missed up to seven years of schooling during the Taliban era, and in
many cases have had to enroll in classes lower than other children of
the same age," Carwardine said.
/AH/210









 
 
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