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Education under Attack 2010 - Sri Lanka

Publisher UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)
Publication Date 10 February 2010
Cite as UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Education under Attack 2010 - Sri Lanka, 10 February 2010, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

During the most recent phase of the conflict (2006 to 2009) many schools were turned into IDP camps or military shelters and became military targets. In 2006 and 2007, both parties to the conflict attacked schools. Shelling by security forces in the districts of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Killinochchi destroyed schools and resulted in the death and injury of students and teachers. Schools were also attacked in the districts of Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Mannar. On 8 November 2006, the Sri Lankan army shelled and fired rockets in and around Vigneshwara Vidyalayam school in Kathiravelli in response to alleged LTTE shelling from this area. The school was housing 2,000 IDPs: 62 people died and 47 were wounded. On 12 December 2006, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) similarly attacked a school in Kallar village, Trincomallee District, killing one child and wounding ten others. As of September 2007, 261 schools had been destroyed or damaged in fighting.675

On 29 January 2008, 11 children and six adults, including a school principal, were killed during a claymore mine attack on a school bus in rebel-held territory in Thatchanamadhu, Mannar District, northern Sri Lanka.676

In 2007, fear of abduction en route to or in school for recruitment into armed groups led some parents in IDP camps to keep their children from school. The LTTE had forcibly recruited children on their way to or from school and in the past had used schools as voluntary recruitment sites.677

In May 2009, children as young as nine years' old were abducted from camps for Tamil IDPs in northern Sri Lanka. Some were taken for ransom and others were abducted by paramilitaries for questioning over links to the defeated rebel movement, the LTTE.678 Sri Lankan NGOs reported that dozens of university students were targeted for government abductions and disappearances from 2005 to 2007.679 The UN found strong evidence of security forces sometimes supporting or participating in the abduction and forced recruitment of child soldiers by the Karuna Group. Both the Karuna Group and the LTTE were listed in the Annex to the Secretary-General's Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict in 2006 and 2007. The chairman of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict called on the LTTE to return children to their families and respect the neutrality of schools.680

[Refworld note: The source report "Education under Attack 2010" was posted on the UNESCO website ( in pdf format, with country chapters run together. Original footnote numbers have been retained here.]

675 HRW, Return to War: Human Rights Under Siege (New York: HRW, 2007); and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, No Safety No Escape: Children and the Escalating Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka (Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, 2008), 20.

676, "Schoolchildren Killed in Mannar," January 29, 2008. The UN later said 13 children were killed; see UNSC, Report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict (2009).

677 Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, No Safety No Escape, 21; HRW, Living in Fear: Child Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, HRW report 16, no. 13 (C) (New York: HRW, 2004); and HRW, Complicit in Crime: State Collusion in Abductions and Child Recruitment by the Karuna Group, HRW report 19, no. 1(C) (New York: HRW, 2007).

678 Gethin Chamberlain, "In Sri Lanka the War is Over But Tamil Tiger Remnants Suffer Brutal Revenge," The Guardian, May 21, 2009,

679 HRW, Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for "Disappearances" and Abductions in Sri Lanka, HRW report 20, no.2(C) (New York: HRW, 2008).

680 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Annual Report 2008, 313-4; and UNSC, Report of the United Nations Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka, S/2006/1006 (December 2006).

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