Are schools being used as a Military target in Mozambique?

Kids in class of a school in Mozambique Kids in class of a school in Mozambique Arnaldo Langa on Global Partnership for Education

01 July 2024

Conflict in Northern Mozambique affects the education system in the province of Cabo Delgrado.

Since 2017, the conflict in North Mozambique has been particularly violent in the Cabo Delgado Province. The local militias have been fighting against the armed groups of the Province causing significant damage to the local education system and the local population. The armed groups of the Province are affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) and are known locally as “Al-Shabab” or Al-Sunna wa Jama’a (ASWJ).

Despite an improvement in security conditions, the United Nations (UN) reported that more than 2.3 million people required humanitarian assistance, and 3 million children were unable to access an appropriate education. This is evidenced by the 2024 Education Under Attack report, which indicates that attacks on educational facilities between 2022 and 2023 have decreased. However, it appears that these attacks are primarily for military purposes. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) identified six attacks on schools during the 2022-2023 report period, a significant decline from the 220 attacks between 2017 and 2021. 

Attacks on schools have two primary consequences: firstly, according to the data of Save the Children, 5,740 children are unable to attend school due to the closure of 11 schools. Secondly, it has been documented that armed forces recruit some of these children and use them in attacks. According to data from the UN, 132 children were used in this manner in 2022. GCPEA has identified at least 12 cases of schools being a military target during the same reporting period, cases which the UN has shown were perpetrated by Mozambican militia, and one case of the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).

Human Rights Watch has revealed that since 2017, women and girls have been abducted and boys have been used as child soldiers by Islamist armed groups of this region. Moreover, it appears that even the Government security forces have perpetrated serious human rights abuses. This constitutes a violation of the Safe Schools Declaration, a political agreement that obligates countries to prevent and respond to attacks on students, teachers, and schools. Despite Mozambique having signed this declaration in 2015, the aforementioned report indicates that violence has not ceased, and that schools remain a dangerous place for the Mozambican children.

Consequently, the only solution to safeguard the education system and facilitate the appropriate upbringing of children is that both parties must cease using schools as military targets. 


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by Giorgia Rossini


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