By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, Feb 24 2023 (IPS-Partners)
Today with heavy hearts we mark 365 days of a brutal against Ukraine.
Through this illegal act of aggression, over 450 children have been killed and another 900 injured. The shelling and bombing has damaged 3,000 educational institutions, and completely destroyed 420 schools and learning centers. As many as 5.7 million children have had their education disrupted, with no end in sight.
Why waging a war and leaving a legacy of so much suffering? This is not leadership. It is a violation of International Humanitarian Law and the UN Charter, deliberately and systematically attacking human beings and therewith their human rights.
Attacks on schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure are senseless, cruel and inhumane. Why is it so difficult to grasp the basic imperative that every girl and every boy impacted by this war is entitled to safe and protective learning environments? They cannot and must not be targets. These innocent children are entitled to experience hope.
In all an estimated 2 million children have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine, with the war creating seismic ripple effects across the globe. In Africa, food prices increases are forcing children to go to school hungry, in Europe and North America energy price spikes and inflation are creating growing economic uncertainty, and across the world, resources are diverted from essential services such as education, healthcare and humanitarian relief for forgotten crises in places like the Sahel.
The girls and boys of Ukraine are not alone. Worldwide, the number of children in high-intensity conflict zones has grown in recent years to a total of 230 million. This is more than the total populations of the Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom combined.
We live in a shameful era of human history. We have mismanaged the earth and humankind. The war against Ukraine indicates that we are nowhere close towards greater humanity and decency, peace and security.
With a quality education fit for the 21st Century, we need an education for all that provides proficiency in reading and mathematical skills, psycho-social and mental health services to children and adolescents traumatized by war and disasters, social-emotional skills to advance social cohesion, critical thinking to question harmful practices and poor governance, empathy to feel for their neighbors, society and the world, and an education that encourages an unstoppable will and confidence to change the destiny of our world. Nothing less will do.
Today, we honor the students, their parents, their teachers and school administration in Ukraine, as well as those in sub-Saharan African, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. May they be the ones that one day turn the tide.
ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif Statement Marking 365 Days of War in Ukraine