THE killing of more than 40 people, a majority of them students, by a rebel group in western Rwanda has triggered global outrage.
Among those killed are 37 students. Others were abducted during the attack, blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), on Lhubiriha Secondary School in the Mpondwe area of Kasese District.
To add more misery, the attack occurred on Friday, when the annual Day of the African Child was commemorated.
“This was a heinous and unconscionable act of violence,” said Catherine Russell, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“An attack on a school and school children in this manner is an assault on the very progress young people have led in Uganda for years,” she added.
Russell called for the immediate release and safe return of all those who have been kidnapped. She extended condolences to the loved ones of the victims and to the East African nation as it grappled with the violence.
Save the Children also expressed outrage.
“This incident is a great violation to international laws governing child and human rights,” Dragana Strinic, the organisation’s director for Rwanda, said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives. The community and dozens
of children will possibly remain with lifelong injuries, in addition to the toll on their mental health.”
Strinic called upon all conflicting parties to end conflict where possible and remain vigilant about the safety and well-being of children and the functionality of facilities that serve them.
ADF is synonymous with the rebellion in neighbouring northeastern DRC.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission
(AUC), reiterates the need for an urgent holistic regional approach to address the threat posed by all terrorist and armed groups operating from the DRC, to ensure regional security.
“The Chairperson wishes to reaffirm the African Union’s continued and unwavering solidarity with the Ugandan government and people during this
painful period of national loss,” his spokesperson said.
Education Above All (EAA) called for those who deliberately attack education to be held accountable.
Maleiha Malik, Executive Director of EAA’s Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict Programme, denounced, “These heinous acts of violence not only endanger the lives of students and teachers but also deprive young minds of the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute positively to their communities.”
Active since 1996, ADF is an Islamist rebel group. Uganda considers it a
President Yoweri Museveni sent his condolences.
He said the Ugandan forces would “hunt down” the rebel group now that
the DRC had allowed Rwanda to operate on Congolese territory.
“We are bringing new forces to the Uganda side as we continue the hunting in the Congo,” Museveni said.
“This new atrocity by the elements of the ADF is criminal, desperate, terrorist and futile. It will not save them,” the president added.
– CAJ News