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Report Says Insecurity Triples School Closures In West, Central Africa

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An upsurge in attacks and threats of violence has forced almost two million children out of school in West and Central Africa, the United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) on Friday said.

Almost 9,300 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria as a result of insecurity, triple the number recorded at the end of 2017, the fund said in a new report.

Deliberate attacks on schools, pupils and teachers were denying children their right to learn and leaving them in fear for their lives, said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Charlotte Gornitzka, after visiting the region.

Cameroon, where clashes between the army and an English-speaking separatist movement have led to insecurity for the past couple of years, is the most affected country in the region, with more than 4,400 schools forcibly closed, the organisation found.

Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have meanwhile witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to attacks and threats of violence in just over two years, from 512 in April 2017 to 3,005 in June 2019, UNICEF said.

Countries in West and Central Africa suffer from ongoing insecurity caused by various rebel, militia and terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP).

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