Investing in children and their education is the best way to counter violent extremism

UNICEF Australia calls on the Government to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration
SYDNEY, 2 March 2017 – UNICEF Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement of a new policy framework to counter violent extremism through Australian Aid.  Young people who experience discrimination and exclusion are more at risk of being recruited by extremist groups.
“UNICEF Australia welcomes the Government’s increased commitment to countering violent extremism.  Children becoming associated with or involved in extremists groups is a child protection risk first and foremost.  Education is a key protective factor for children, particularly in situations where there is armed conflict or acute violence,” said Amy Lamoin, Head of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia.
“Children who are unable to access education due to armed conflict or other crises have their lives disrupted, their development impeded and are more vulnerable to radicalisation and violent extremism.”
Violent extremism has devastating impacts on children and families in developing countries and undermines sustainable development. It limits participation in education, particularly for girls.  Since 2013, the Boko Haram insurgency has displaced 1.3 million children. Soaring numbers of children are being used as suicide bombers. In Nigeria, 20 per cent of suicide bombers are children, and three quarters of them are girls.
In complex situations where there are state actors, non-state armed groups and extremist groups, schools are frequently the only safe place for children. 
“We invite the Australian Government to endorse the International Safe Schools Declaration and Guidelines. The Declaration and Guidelines enable states to show support for the protection and continuation of education in settings where there is armed conflict and violence. It is a simple way for the Australian Government to help protect children and their right to education, and to strengthen respect for International Humanitarian Law. UNICEF Australia calls on the Australia Government to take this simple step,” Ms Lamoin added.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334,
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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