Attacks and looting carried out by armed groups has left 222 pupils of Jida Primary School in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) without access to education, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has said.
The attack, which is said to be the second one against a school supported by the NRC, is the fourth attack against educational facilities in Ituri Province, DRC, since Dec. 2021.
It was reported that during the incident, an armed gang looted the roofing materials, equipment, and furniture which served 222 children.
According to Caitlin Brady, the Country Director of NRC in DRC, these attacks constitute a grave violation of child rights in conflict.
“I am outraged by these attacks against school facilities, but even more so as NRC has only recently constructed these new classrooms as a service to conflict affected children,” she said.
The new primary school consisted of four new classrooms with renovated buildings to ensure that children affected by conflict, including displaced children, could have access to basic education.
“They are already living under constant fear of attacks in their villages, homes, and camps,” Brady said.
“Every effort must be made to ensure schools are protected, safe places where children can learn and grow in peace.”
She added that the DRC is a signatory to the Safe Schools Declaration, which aims to protect students, teachers, and schools from the worst effects of armed conflict.
“We strongly condemn these attacks and call on all armed groups to uphold their commitment to protect children and respect schools and lifesaving education.”
In the last six months, the schools of Langbe Ukpa, Dhedja and Olo, where NRC also supports education activities, were also looted and damaged, making them inaccessible for students and teachers.
In 2013 and 2014, the United Nations (UN) verified attacks on schools, looting of schools, or military use of schools by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Congolese army and armed groups.
The cause of the ongoing conflict in Ituri province is indefinite, however, reports say violence has its roots in the ethnic dynamics of the Second Congo War where militias from the Lendu and Hema communities armed themselves against each other, resulting in an estimated 55,000 deaths between 1999 and 2003.
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