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Malala advocates for education for Syrian refugees

Orient Net - R. Sikora 2016-02-01 14:12:00

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Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenage education activist who gained worldwide recognition after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head in 2012, has promised to urge world leaders who will attend a conference in London on Thursday to commit .4 billion this year towards providing education for Syrian refugee children. 

Malala has been campaigning for access to education for all the world’s children since she stood up to the Taliban in her homeland. Because of her efforts, Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Thursday’s "Supporting Syria and the Region" conference will be attended by international heads of state as well as ministers from countries around the world. The goal of the conference is to raise funds for dealing with the humanitarian crises that have arisen as a result of the war in Syria.

According to a report done by the Malala Fund, which advocates for more resources for education and safe schools for every child, there are approximately 700,000 Syrian children living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and the surrounding countries who are currently not attending school.

"I have met so many Syrian refugee children; they are still in my mind. I can’t forget them. The thought that they won’t be able to go to school in their whole life is completely shocking and I cannot accept it," said the young Nobel laureate.

 

"We can still help them, we can still protect them. They are not lost yet. They need schools. They need books. They need teachers. This is the way we can protect the future of Syria."

Malala, who is now 18 years old, currently lives in the UK and has become a tireless advocate for the cause of education for Syrian refugee children. 

In the past few years she has proven to be a powerful public speaker and is hoping to win support for her cause from the attendees of the London conference with her speech on Thursday.

"I’m hoping to encourage and inspire world leaders to take action. I’m not going to wait. We can’t wait. It needs to happen." she said.

Accompanying Malala at the conference will be Muzoon Almellehan, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee. She will be the only young Syrian refugee in attendance who will address world leaders during the event.

"Without education we cannot do anything," Muzoon said during the same Reuters phone interview as Malala on Sunday.

The two girls first met at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in 2014 when Muzoon was living there. They reconnected when Muzoon was resettled in northern England in December of 2015.

Muzoon has been inspired by Malala to dedicate herself to the cause of education for her fellow Syrian refugees; but in the meantime she is working on perfecting her English so that she may be able to attend a university in Britain.

"She is the one that I want people to listen to. Her story is so powerful, it’s so inspiring. She’s going to tell world leaders that these children have a right to an education and they must not ignore it," said Malala.

The London conference is sponsored by the governments of Britain, Germany, Norway and Kuwait and will be co-hosted by the UN.  

Education is just one of the concerns that will be addressed. The UN hopes to obtain pledges from countries that will help them in meeting a wide range of humanitarian needs of Syrians.

In previous years, donor funding has fallen short of the UN’s expectations. With the recent media coverage of their miserable record of providing for the needs of internally displaced Syrians in the past four years they will most likely find it difficult to garner the support they hope to get again this year.

For the sake of Syria’s refugee children we hope that Malala and Muzoon will be able to move the hearts of the donors to be generous this year.

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