Education campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai has called on world leaders to guarantee an education for all refugee children.
Malala’s comments come just before the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, which will discuss the question of how to deal with over 21 million refugees.
In 2015, there were 11 million refugees under the age of 18, making up 51 per cent of the refugee population. This is up ten per cent from the previous year. The UN refugee agency has attributed part of the influx of refugees to fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, Burundi and South Sudan.
Speaking to the Associated Press by telephone, Malala said: “It’s not just giving attendance, a bit of food that will protect these families in the future, it is also education.”
“You give education to the children of these families and you guide them and you make their future.”
“Why do world leaders waste our time with this pageant of sympathy while they are unwilling to do the one thing that will change the future for millions of children?”
“They have the potential to help rebuild safe, peaceful, prosperous countries, but they can’t do this without education.”
Malala, 19, is currently studying for her exams and so won’t be attending the General Assembly. However, she has issued a report from the Malala Fund and is calling the international community to raise £2.18 billion by 2019 in support of the Education Cannot Wait Fund, helping the most vulnerable children including refugees.
Continuing she said, “I’m in the last year of secondary school and when I imagine children who drop out after primary school and when I imagine girls who get married as teenagers when they should be in school, it worries me.”
“Because when they drop out from that level they’re not even able to go further in their lives and go to university and achieve their dreams.”
“Education is crucial. I understand that, you understand that, people understand that but when it comes to world leaders’ decision making, they completely ignore it, as if they have no knowledge and are completely ignorant.”
“They should understand this because they want their own children to go to universities and get a quality education.”
Malala hit the headlines in 2012 after the Taliban shot her in the head for campaigning for a girl’s right to education. The assassination attempt on Malala caused shockwaves across the globe.
Since the attack, she has gone on to receive Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. In 2014, she was named as co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest ever laureate. She was also named as one of TIME magazines, ‘Top 100 Most Influential People in the World’.