On 8th May 2021 an explosion in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in Kabul, Afghanistan left at least 30 people dead with more injured. This deadly attack took place close to a high school. A news report by NPR news states that the high school close to the attack is for both boys and girls, however, girls could have been the specific target because only girls attend classes in the afternoon, the time at which the explosion occurred. According to UN News, the schoolchildren were leaving the building at the end of the school day when the attack occurred.
UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, released a statement stating that “UNICEF strongly condemns the horrific attack earlier today near the Sayed-Ul-Shuhada high school.” Further, she stated that the “attack claimed the lives of dozens of schoolchildren, mostly, girls, and severely injured many more.”
Currently, there have been no claims of responsibility for the attack in Kabul, and BBC News reported that Taliban militants have denied involvement in this bombing. Further, BBC reports that according to Afghan officials, the cause of the attack is related to a car bomb and mortars.
According to BBC News, the neighbourhood and region of this horrific attack weathered a previous attack at the maternity unit of a local hospital about a year ago, which claimed the lives of 24 women, children, and babies. Further, according to BBC News, the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Afghanistan by September 11 has also created an additional layer of complexity and violence.
This devastating situation is further described by witness reports, such as sights of “many bloodied bodies in dust and smoke,” as BBC News has reported. UNICEF’s Executive Director also brought close attention to the fact that “violence in or around schools is never acceptable. Schools must be havens of peace where children can play, learn and socialize safely.”
Furthermore, according to a UN News report Volkan Bozkir, the President of the UN General Assembly, stated that this brutal attack is “an abhorrent and cowardly attack,” which highlights the importance of engaging in non-violent strategies for conflict resolution. Moreover, the U.S. State Department has described this as a “barbarous attack” and called for “an immediate end to violence and the senseless targeting of innocent civilians”. Concurrently, the European Union’s mission in Afghanistan has stated that “targeting primarily students in a girls’ school, makes this an attack on the future of Afghanistan”.
This human rights issue should be strongly condemned. In the Executive Director’s statement, UNICEF also called on “all parties to the conflict to adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law” to diligently safeguard the lives of all children. Violent attacks against humanity, and especially children, should be profoundly condemned. Necessary non-violent measures such as peace agreements should be promoted to protect the lives of innocent children and civilians. It is imperative to protect future generations and ensure every child can study and play without fearing for their lives.