Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed in a report published Thursday that separationist fighters have systematically targeted education facilities amidst significant armed conflict.
The report, entitled “They Are Destroying Our Future:” Armed Separatist Attacks on Students, Teachers, and Schools in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions, investigated the safety of education in Cameroon based on interviews with students and educators. HRW found that armed separationists in the country have lodged attacks and threats against students and educators and enforced boycotts of schools.
Further, the report documented the kidnapping of 268 students and educators by the armed separationists, many of which took place at educational facilities.
Although the country’s government has taken steps to enforce the Safe Schools Declaration, an international agreement to protect education facilities in war-torn countries, the report’s findings are discordant with compliance with this declaration. Cameroon endorsed the declaration in 2018.
The findings have adverse implications for the right to education in Cameroon, as provided for by Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, the report’s author, commented:
Cameroonian authorities should impartially investigate all education-related attacks, prosecute those responsible in fair trials, and provide timely support to victims. As the future of children in the Anglophone regions hangs in the balance, the authorities should live up to their responsibility to ensure children’s safe access to education and protection from harm.
HRW made several recommendations, including that the country’s government offer alternative education mediums for students displaced by the armed conflict, such as distance learning.