Photo: Sent to KabulNow

US Special Envoy expresses concern over poisoning of schoolgirls in Sar-e-Pol province

Following the reactions to the poisoning of schoolgirls in northern Sar-e-Pol province, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, has voiced grave concerns and called for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Expressing his distress on Wednesday, West tweeted, “Deeply concerned by reports that scores of schoolgirls may have been poisoned in Afghanistan’s Sar-e-Pol province. Urge every measure be taken to investigate and keep children safe. Afghans deserve education without fear or restrictions.”

Earlier this week, local sources confirmed with KabulNow that at least 80 female students and two female teachers fell victim to poisoning in two public primary schools located in Sancharak district, Sar-e-Pol province.

While local Taliban officials have acknowledged the incident, the circumstances surrounding the poisoning remain unclear. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the night before the incident, unidentified armed individuals, claiming to be Taliban members and responsible for security, were seen in the vicinity.

The European Union and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have also called for a thorough investigation into this incident.

“The EU regrets the horrible news,” Nabila Massrali, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs of the EU tweeted on Tuesday. “This is a heinous crime that needs to be followed up by the de facto authorities, as per their obligations under international law to protect the population. We wish all affected a swift recovery,” she added.

UNICEF has said that schools should be heavens of safety where children learn free from fear and Women should be able to work without endangering their lives. The agency called on the Taliban to do everything possible to keep girls and women safe.