Niger's government has tried to fix shortages of classrooms by constructing straw-hut classrooms Niger's government has tried to fix shortages of classrooms by constructing straw-hut classrooms 

Niger: Dozens of schoolchildren killed in deadly fire

A fire outbreak in a school in Niger’s southern region of Maradi has left at least 25 schoolchildren dead, and 14 others injured.

By Vatican News staff writer

At least 25 schoolchildren were killed on Monday when their classroom made out of straw and wood was engulfed in a fire in southern Niger, authorities said.

The students, aged between five to six were attending classes in a school in the town of Maradi, more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) east of Niamey, Niger’s capital.

14 other students were reportedly injured in Monday’s fire that destroyed three other straw-hut classrooms at the school. Some of the injured are feared to be in critical condition.

It is still unclear what caused the tragic fire.

Education in Niger

Niger, a vast, arid state on the edge of the Sahara desert struggles in the face of frequent droughts, insurgency and socio-economic difficulties.

The country's government has tried to fix shortages of school buildings by building overflow classrooms made of wood and straw to accommodate all school children.

Monday’s fire is the second time this year that a blaze has killed schoolchildren in the West African country. In April, twenty pre-school children were killed in a fire in Niamey, after being trapped behind their school gates.

Following this latest fire incident, classes have been suspended and three days of mourning have been declared in Maradi, said regional director of education, Maman Hdi.

UNICEF statement

In a statement on Monday, UNICEF country representative for Niger, Stefano Savi, expressed sadness over the loss of life in the tragic fire.

"UNICEF has received initial information indicating that several children were killed or injured in the fire," Savi said. "Our hearts are with the children and families affected. Our most sincere condolences to the families of the victims and their communities."

Stressing that "no child should ever be in danger when learning in school," he added that the UN Children's Fund will continue to work with national authorities and partners across the country "to ensure that children can attend school and learn in safe environments."

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09 November 2021, 10:37