On Thursday, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Haiti, Bruno Maes, denounced that schools have become a target of armed gangs.
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"Haitian gangs always respected schools. In recent months, however, some armed groups have started looting schools as they consider this activity a more lucrative alternative than other forms of extortion and crime," Maes lamented.
"This situation must end. Violence against schools by armed groups is having an enormous impact on the safety, well-being, and learning capacity of children and adolescents,” he added.
Since Oct, 2022, about 13 Haitian schools have suffered attacks by armed groups, which murdered a student and kidnapped at least two staff members. Gangs also stole food supplies (rice, dough, and corn) and the cutlery used by children to eat.
In addition, they looted school supplies, including desks, blackboards, laptops, photocopiers, and solar panels, so many school principals decided to close their centers to protect children and staff from possible attacks.
One out of four schools have remained closed since October 2022. In January, children lost an average of one and a half days of school a week. If urgent action is not taken to protect schools from violence, UNICEF predicts that students will lose about 36 school-days by the end of June.
"A child who fears going to school is a child at risk of being recruited by armed groups,” Maes highlighted, calling the Haitian government to take immediate action in this regard.