School sheltering civilians attacked in Luhansk, Ukraine

Plan International condemns in the strongest terms the latest reported attack on a school sheltering civilians including children in Luhansk region of Ukraine. A statement by CEO, Stephen Omollo.

“It is of great concern that children remain in grave danger of death, physical harm, and emotional distress due to indiscriminate use of explosive weapons affecting public buildings where children are present. Attacks against children are a serious violation of international humanitarian law during armed conflicts. Schools should never be a target of war, and at no time should hostilities jeopardize the rights, well-being and safety of students, teachers and others who seek safety in schools and other public infrastructure.

“Since the beginning of the conflict, at least 20 schools have been attacked on each day and this is affecting the education of 5.7 million children inside Ukraine. We know that disrupting the education of girls, particularly adolescent girls, can lead to them dropping out of school early and an increased risk of child marriage, early marriage and unwanted pregnancies.

“Thousands of children who live in areas at high risk of direct impact of attacks need urgent assistance, including ensuring their safety and protection, as well as access to humanitarian assistance and essential services such as sexual and reproductive health and psychological support.

“Continued indiscriminate air strikes and other attacks in Ukraine, resulting in part in the sudden breakdown of family and community structures, are some of the factors that are placing children, adolescent girls and women at increased risk of gender-related violence.

“We will never stop repeating it – schools are not a target. Civilians are not a target. The reported targeting of the school used as a civilian shelter or educational centre in Luhansk cannot be tolerated. The perpetrators must be held accountable.”