June 6 (UPI) — European Union officials issued a statement Tuesday condemning the poisoning of more than 60 girls at schools in northern Afghanistan.
“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,” the Delegation of the European Union to Afghanistan said Tuesday.
The number of girls in two separate primary schools in Afghanistan’s northern Sar-e-Pul province is likely closer to 80, CNN reported, citing the head of the region’s education department. The department is investigating the matter.
Officials believe the girls were poisoned over the weekend. No arrests have been made.
A report of 14 girls falling ill at one primary school on Saturday, was quickly followed by another of 60 falling ill a day later at a school in a neighboring village.
Girls in Afghanistan have attended primary school until the age of 12, since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.
This is believed to be the first case of students being poisoned since the Islamic fundamentalist group retook power in Afghanistan through force.
The phenomenon, itself, is not new in predominantly Muslim countries where women’s rights are suppressed.
In March, Iranian authorities admitted they were investigating reports that a large number of schoolgirls were poisoned. Allegations stem from at least 58 schools in 10 provinces across the country.
International reports have listed more than 1,000 cases of female students, mostly in primary school, being poisoned across the country, dating back to last year. The first of those was reported in November.
Students in those cases reported respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness and fatigue, in some cases requiring hospitalization.