As Ivorian pupils return to school, UN report finds critical equipment shortages
|Publisher||UN News Service|
|Publication Date||13 May 2011|
|Cite as||UN News Service, As Ivorian pupils return to school, UN report finds critical equipment shortages, 13 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dd261aa1e.html [accessed 30 August 2014]|
While the overwhelming majority of Ivorian children in the country's central, northern and western regions have returned to classes after the country's post-election crisis, the majority of recently re-opened schools lack critical equipment and facilities, according to a United Nations report released today.
Hundreds of thousands of children in Côte d'Ivoire were forced out of schools for several months due to the crisis stemming from the refusal of former president Laurent Gbagbo to step down despite the UN-certified victory of Alassane Ouattara in a poll last November. The crisis ended with Mr. Gbagbo's surrender on 11 April.
The joint study of UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children found that many obstacles remain to providing quality education in Côte d'Ivoire a third of teachers are still absent, 80 per cent of the public schools evaluated do not have enough wooden desks and chairs, and 75 per cent of schools do not have latrines.
UNICEF's representative in Côte d'Ivoire, Hervé Ludovic de Lys, said many families were forced to flee their homes during the crisis and lost their means to earn an income, while other families hosted displaced people, overstretching their resources.
"Parents are now faced with the difficult choice of sending their children to school or relying on them to work to provide income to the family cultivating fields, hauling bricks, or helping in the markets," he said. "With the delay, the school year will overlap the harvest season."
The report's release coincides with the Security Council's renewal today of the mandate for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) until 31 July. UNOCI played a key role in helping bring the recent crisis to an end, with a particular Council-mandated emphasis on protecting civilians, including preventing the use of heavy weaponry against them.
In its resolution, the Council also extended until 30 June the temporary re-deployment of peacekeepers to UNOCI from the UN peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Liberia (UNMIL). The re-deployment involves three infantry companies and an aviation unit comprised of three armed helicopters and two utility helicopters.
Meanwhile, UNOCI's human rights staff has been visiting detention facilities to monitor the treatment of pro-Gbagbo individuals arrested last month along with the former president. Concerns over the conditions of detention of pro-Gbagbo officials, as well as free access to all those arrested in relation to the post-electoral crisis, have been raised with the Government.
Human rights officers have so far been granted access only to those in detention in Bouake and Bouna. In Bouna, the officers said, security was lax enough that elements from the pro-Ouattara Forces Républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire have been able to enter the facility and threaten the detainees.
The Ivorian Minister of Justice, Ahoussou-Kouadio, has told UNOCI that a consolidated list of all detainees in relation to the crisis would be provided to the mission so that it can independently assess how the detained are being treated.
UNOCI's human rights staff are also continuing investigations into allegations of mass killings by Liberian mercenaries in the towns of Dabou, Irobo and Grand-Lahou. A special investigation team is conducting a fact-finding mission and a report is expected to be finalized next week.
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