from ISSOUF TRAORE in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso Bureau
OUAGADOUGOU, (CAJ News) – THE future of whole generations of children is being jeopardised in a context of protracted conflict and crisis in Central and West Africa.
The education of 2,5 million children is directly endangered, with the number of school closures due to insecurity having almost doubled over the past four years.
More than 13 200 closed schools in eight countries of the abovementioned region.
In Central and West Africa, only 3,9 percent of funding appeals for education had been met by the beginning of September.
By comparison, 30,5 percent of calls for funds were met for the entire humanitarian sector in the region in the month.
Despite the flurry in needs, education is all too often neglected.
“Education is a lifeline for children,” Hassane Hamadou, Regional Director in Central and West Africa for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said.
“But for millions of children in Central and West Africa insecurity means they will be stuck outside the classroom this coming school year, unable to learn.”
Hamadou warned that many will be forced to work, to join armed groups, or to get married, shattering their futures.
The situation in the Central Sahel is particularly severe.
The number of schools closed increased nearly six-fold between 2019 and 2023, from 1 700 to almost 9 000.
Burkina Faso alone accounts for half of the school closures recorded in Central and West Africa, with more than 6 100 schools closed as of July 2023.
In some cases, schools are the target of direct attacks by non-state armed groups.
A total of 147 incidents were reported between January and August 2023 across the region. In other cases, schools are deserted or abandoned following forced population displacements. Faced with conflict, families and teachers flee.
“In a region where the protection of civilians and their access to basic services is increasingly threatened by insecurity and conflict, we have a collective duty to act to ensure that schools remain safe spaces for all forcibly displaced children and youth and those from host communities,” said Xavier Creach, Deputy Director of United Nations Refugee Agency Regional Bureau for West and Central Africa.
– CAJ News