Studying Under Fire: Attacks on Schools, Military Use of Schools during the Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia backed militants has taken a heavy toll on civilians. Over 9,000 people have been killed, including many civilians, and at least 20,000 injured, according to data gathered by the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, estimates that of the more than 1.5 million people displaced by the conflict at least one third are children. 

This report documents attacks on schools on both sides of the line of contact and the use of schools by both sides for military purposes, which has turned schools into legitimate military targets. The report also describes the consequent destruction which has forced children from their schools. The report also examines some of the negative impacts of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine on the right to quality education for Ukrainian children, as guaranteed by Ukraine’s constitution and international law. For example, during the conflict some schools were forced to close leading to months of lost classroom time. In the post conflict period too classroom time has been lost due to overcrowding as damaged schools still awaiting repairs send their students to other schools and due to schools’ inability to repair or convert damaged heating systems. The report also describes obstacles children face in accessing schools due to hostilities, government-imposed travel restrictions, and lack of transportation.

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Human Rights Watch (HRW)


Protecting Education from Attack

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