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Fighting between government forces and insurgents has closed nearly a quarter of all schools in Burkina Faso, according to a new report warning about the looming education crisis in Africa’s restive Sahel region, the Guardian reported Thursday.
The report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the United Nations found that the number of closed schools rose by almost a third over the past year to more than 6,100, affecting nearly one million students.
It also said many of the educational institutions that remain open are suffering from poor conditions and a lack of teachers.
The findings came as the West African country continues to grapple with violence and instability, which has increased since last year’s military coup. The current junta has launched an offensive against militant groups that has resulted in accusations of human rights abuses on all sides.
UN officials warned that the closures and insecurity risk “the future of Burkina Faso’s next generation.” They added that children out of school are in danger of being forced into labor, recruited into armed groups, or becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.
The report also looked into data from other countries in central and western Africa that are dealing with rising insecurity.
It found that some schools were abandoned due to nearby fighting, while others were deliberately targeted. In Nigeria, 52 schools were attacked by militants in January, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s violence-hit eastern region, 31 schools came under attack.