News / Europe

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    School Number 42 in Vuhlehirsk was struck six times in January and February 2015.
    School Number 42 in Vuhlehirsk was struck six times in January and February 2015.
    Margaret Besheer

    Human Rights Watch said Thursday that both sides in the conflict in Ukraine have indiscriminately attacked schools, which could amount to a war crime.

    In a report entitled "Studying Under Fire," the rights group documented how both the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed rebels have carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes, including basing troops or weapons in or near schools.

    "Normally, a school is a civilian object and it is protected under international law," Yulia Gorbunova, the HRW researcher who authored the report, told VOA by phone from Moscow. "Once it has military inside -- it is used for military purposes -- it becomes a legitimate military target and can be attacked."

    She said this happened on a wide scale in eastern Ukraine.

    The HRW team visited 41 schools in both the government controlled areas and in the rebel-held Donbas region of Donetsk and Luhansk.

    According to data in the report provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, 119 schools and kindergartens in its areas were damaged in fighting between April 2014 and November 2015. De facto rebel authorities reported damage to nearly 900 schools in their areas during the same period.

    Gorbunova said the attacks – some deliberate, some indiscriminate – have a "long-term negative effect" because many schools do not reopen and children's education is disrupted. Many students also have been traumatized by the attacks.

    A school principal outside Ilovaisk’s School Number 14. Due to the significant damage the school sustained during the conflict, it did not reopen for the 2015-2016 school year.
    A school principal outside Ilovaisk’s School Number 14. Due to the significant damage the school sustained during the conflict, it did not reopen for the 2015-2016 school year.

    In one rebel-held town where there is currently no fighting, Gorbunova said they heard about students' lingering fears. "The school principal told us that children feel so traumatized they still drop to the ground every time they hear a loud sound."

    "The negative impact of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine on the right to education of children is a tragic reminder of the need to find a solution to this conflict," said Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, in response to the HRW report.

    "All parties to the conflict must ensure that students, including those living in areas controlled by armed groups, may continue their education in line with the country's international human rights obligations," he added.

    HRW's Gorbunova said both the government and rebels are open to discussions about the right's group's findings.

    HRW urged both sides to take concrete actions to deter the military use of schools.

    They also have urged the government to sign the U.N. Safe Schools Declaration and to use its current term on the U.N. Security Council to support resolutions related to protecting children in armed conflict.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: kanaikaal irumporai
    February 11, 2016 2:25 PM
    Yes, it's the HRW that says the first word and after a while the talks of war-crimes or Genocide simply become petty things that needs to be dealt within the bounds of the perpetrators’ own legal systems(like those found in Sri Lanka) and it'll be the same criminals who will perform judges. From time to time Mr. Obama or any other person holding the US-top seat will ask the UNHRC-chief, like Mr. Zyed, to make a visit to the area to put-up a kind of puppet show in which the UNHRC-chief will look like an idiot and try to tell the victims that they should learn to forget the past and live harmoniously with the criminals. When all that damage-control had been done, Mr. Joh Kerry will praise the criminals' chief who is the president.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora