At least eight children were killed and 12 others were injured on October 24 in an attack on a school in the town of Kumba, in the southwest region of Cameroon, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said..
The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay, and the Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon, Matthias Z. Naab, strongly condemned the attack. “Schools must be safe places, education is a human right,” Ms. Azoulay said on her Twitter account on Sunday. “I am shocked and outraged by the murder of innocent schoolchildren who went to school for an education,” Naab said in a statement released by OCHA on Saturday.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also said he was deeply shocked by the attack. “Once again, this attack is a disturbing reminder of the heavy toll paid by civilians, including children, many of whom have been deprived of their right to education,” the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said in a statement. press release published on Sunday.
On October 24, a group of armed men attacked the International Bilingual Mother Francisca Academy in Kumba. According to OCHA, at least eight children were killed as a result of gunfire and machete attacks. Twelve others were injured and taken to local hospitals.
The World Health Organization ( WHO ) sent medical supplies to the district hospital and Médecins Sans Frontières is also supporting the hospital with medical supplies and staff. “The UN will continue to support the efforts of the government and non-governmental organizations to provide necessary medical assistance to the injured,” Naab said.
The UN chief and the Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon offered their sincere condolences to the families of the children killed, wished a speedy and full recovery to the injured and provided support to their community.
The attack on this school in Kumba is according to OCHA “the worst atrocity” in Cameroon since the start of the school year on October 5, 2020 during which more students registered in the English-speaking regions of the North West and South West than in recent years. “Children have the right to education.
Violence against innocent schools and schoolchildren is not acceptable under any circumstances and may constitute a crime against humanity if proven by a court, ”Naab said. Through the voice of his spokesperson, the UN Secretary General, recalled that “attacks against school and educational structures are a serious violation of children’s rights”.
Mr. Guterres and Naab urged the Cameroonian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into this “tragedy” so that the perpetrators of this crime can be brought to justice. The UN chief called on the armed parties to refrain from any attacks against civilians and to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The Secretary-General strongly urges the parties to respond positively to his call for a ceasefire around the world,” his spokesperson said. The Humanitarian Coordinator reiterated the UN appeal to all armed actors to refrain from any attacks against children and other civilians and to spare schools, medical facilities and their staff of any violence or threats.
Mr. Guterres reiterated the readiness of the United Nations to support an inclusive dialogue process leading to an end to the crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions of the North West and South West.