Afghan forces use schools as shelter, says watchdog

ADDS DETAILS - Two Hazara tribe schoolgirls receive treatment for suspected poisoning at a hospital in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. More than 100 schoolgirls and teachers were hospitalized after some went into seizures when they smelled some sort of fumes, officials from Herat regional hospital told reporters. Blood tests for poisoning later came back negative. Reports of poisonings or gassings at girls schools in Afghanistan are not unusual but are rarely substantiated by follow-up investigations. (AP Photo/Hoshang Hashimi)

© Nasim Seyamak via ZUMA Wire/dpa

Afghan security forces have been using schools as shelter in the country’s north-eastern Baghlan province, endangering children and their education, Human Rights Watch [HRW] charged in a report published on Wednesday. 

The report alleged that Afghan security forces are “increasingly using schools – the only concrete-reinforced buildings in some villages — as their military bases during offensives against Taliban-held areas.”

At least 12 schools were used for “military purposes” in Baghlan, according to the report, placing “schools at risk of attack and students and teachers in harm’s way.”

This “has severely harmed children’s right to education in Afghanistan,” affecting tens of thousands of school children across the country.

Some 8 million Afghan children are enrolled in schools throughout the country.

Baghlan is one of the most heavily contested provinces alongside its northern neighbor Kunduz, with several districts controlled or heavily contested by Taliban militants.

Human Rights Watch called on the Afghan government and security forces to stop using education facilities as military bases and take serious measures including prosecution against those using schools as bases “regardless of [their] rank.”

The organisation called on the Taliban to stop attacking schools.



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