UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Madena, 16, was in her English class at her school in Kabul when she heard a loud explosion, followed by a second explosion in early July. Taliban suicide bombers have targeted a nearby camp.
Gunmen then stormed the school in search of firing positions.
At least 192 schools in Afghanistan have been attacked and more than 1,000 closed last year for security reasons, according to UNICEF. The United Nations agency said it regretted that some 500,000 children had been “deprived of their right to education.”
With scars still on her arms and legs due to glass fragments, Medina recalls what happened: “It was a terrible day.”
“I still have nightmares, I can’t concentrate, it was very difficult to prepare for the exams,” she said two weeks after the attack. A large number of classrooms have become unusable.
The United States and the Taliban say they are making progress in the ongoing peace talks. But few things have changed for Afghan civilians.
The United Nations says 1,366 civilians were killed and 2,446 wounded in the first half of the year. About one third of the victims are children (327 dead and 880 injured).
Days after the Kabul bombing, a Taliban car bomb targeted intelligence services in the eastern city of Ghazni. The blast also hit a nearby school and dozens of children.
At the Medina school, about 20 percent of its 120 students did not respond to the call for return, said the headmaster Nematollah Hamdard. “They are afraid.”
In Dahabala district in the eastern province of Nangarhar, Babin’s school has become a battleground between government forces and the Afghan branch of the Islamic State. Only the destruction remains. The children, some of whom saw ISIS fighters beheading villagers, are now pursuing their lessons sitting on a carpet amid the wreckage.
“When they sleep at night, they dream of ISIS and they are chased by these atrocities. When they come here, they feel very nervous,” said director Mohamed Wali.
“They are unable to concentrate on their lessons,” notes Omar Ghorzang, a school administration official.
Traumatized children no longer have “an opportunity to learn, develop their skills, improve their productivity and contribute to economic growth,” UNICEF said.
The 15-year-old Amir Gul says his colleagues, who are personally in a state of great concern.
“We are always afraid of a bomb. Everyone is scared and no one can study.”
“When you experience a very sad event, there is a natural reaction in our body that turns into a survival one,” said psychiatrist Bethan McKevoy, an educational adviser to the Norwegian Refugee Council.
But she added: “When people are in constant fear, it is very difficult to disrupt this reaction.”
In addition to insurgent attacks, US forces that killed 76 civilians in 2018, including 31 children, are also dying, according to a new Pentagon report, and mines to which children are particularly vulnerable.
According to the UN Assistance Mission, 84% of fatal injuries to children are caused by mines and unexploded ordnance.
The Ministry of Health has set up listening units in schools affected by the violence. One went to the city school. “The listening period was useful but very short,” the girl says.
In contrast, psychological assistance was not provided to the children of the Baben school because the area was dangerous, he said.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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