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European students call for Gaza partners to respect the right to education

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union is deeply concerned by the current escalation in Israel and Gaza which affects students and higher education institutions on both sides both directly and indirectly. Students should be ensured free, unhindered and safe access to education in order to promote a lasting peace solution.

For the past couple of weeks, higher education institutions, schools and education institutions have been targets to attacks. On 21 July missiles launched from Gaza struck the Sapir College in Israel* and on Saturday the 2nd of August 2014 Israeli aircraft struck the Islamic University of Gaza. Both events mark yet another escalation of the conflict in Gaza. Luckily no students or persons were injured nor killed, but those and other institutions will be unable to operate and serves as a reminder that no places are longer sacred in this conflict.

The European Students’ Union (ESU) is deeply worried by the attacks on a number of universities, schools and education institutions on both sides for the past couple of weeks, and condemns all of these. The institutions represent a place where civilians fulfil their right to educate themselves. This must be respected under any circumstances, including in times of war, as well as conflict, in accordance with international law.

ESU would also like to remind partners of article 34 of the Students’ Rights Charter that states that any student has the right to freely access and share knowledge with society as a whole.

Students and young people are an integral part of conflict resolutions, as is education. It is vital that both sides of the conflict understand that an attack on knowledge is an attack on progress. Putting education institutions, teachers and students alike at risk jeopardises any attempt at peace making in the area, making these acts even more meaningless than before.

The conflict is more complex than the current war actions alone, but the amount of civilian casualties simply cannot be ignored. Reports indicate that more than 1,800 civilians have died since the start of the conflict at hand. Each of these civilians were people with dreams that education could have helped them succeed in, but that now only serves as a tragic story about the terror that the civilians are suffering from.

ESU calls for both partners to respect the importance of students in society and conflict resolution and the right to education. ESU further supports all student actions aimed at improving dialogue and the search for a solution to the conflict and calls for the partners to respect the students’ rights.

Students must always have free, unhindered and not least safe access to educational institutions. It is the responsibility of all parts of the conflict and the global community to safeguard and respect students in this conflict.

*As reported by local Israeli media and confirmed by ESU member National Unions of Israeli Students

Download the full statement from ESU here.

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For more information, please contact:

Erin Nordal, ESU’s Vice-Chairperson: +32/479.126.390 // or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 //

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.


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