Malala seeks to raise billions to educate Syrian refugees

Malala seeks to raise billions to educate Syrian refugees
3 min read
01 February, 2016
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai will seek to inspire world leaders at a conference in London to commit $1.4 billion this year to give Syrian refugee children access to education.
Malala is devoting much energy to the cause of education for Syrian refugee children [Getty]

A petition launched by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai urging a Syria donors' conference to give millions of dollars for educational causes reached over 145,000 signatures.

Addressed to US President Barack Obama, the petition, published on the change.org website, calls for world leaders to commit $1.4 billion at the London conference "to make sure all Syrian children affected by the conflict get an education".

Britain, Germany and Norway are co-hosting the event on February 4 with the United Nations and Kuwait. A string of world leaders are expected to attend.

They will discuss how to help 13.5 million people who are either vulnerable or displaced inside Syria, as well as 4.2 million people who have fled to neighbouring countries like Jordan and Lebanon.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said that participating countries would be asked to double the amount of money they are giving to tackle the humanitarian crisis.

Last year, UN agencies asked for $8.4 billion (7.7 billion euros) from governments worldwide to fund the Syrian aid effort but received only $3.3 billion.

Devotion to education

A Pakistani teenage education activist who came to prominence when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on her school bus in 2012, Malala continued campaigning on the world stage and in 2014 became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Now 18, she lives in Britain but devotes much of her time and energy to the cause of education for Syrian refugee children.

An accomplished public speaker who brought a United Nations audience to its feet in a celebrated speech in 2013, she hopes to make a powerful impact at the London event.

"When Malala came to visit the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan where my family was relocated after fleeing the war, she encouraged me to continue raising my voice on behalf of Syrian children like me who are trying to get an education despite the conflict that has forced us to leave our homes or shut our schools," said Muzoon Almellehan, a Syrian activist praised for her work in refugee camps in Jordan.

When Malala came to visit the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, she encouraged me to continue raising my voice on behalf of Syrian children who are trying to get an education despite the conflict
- Muzoon Almellehan

Muzoon, from the southern Syrian city of Daraa, fled the violence in her country along with her family to neighbouring Jordan in 2013, where they settled in the crowded Zaatari refugee camp and later moved to the Azraq refugee camp.

While at the refugee camps, Muzoon worked to persuade Syrian refugee families that education was the best way to protect the future of their daughters.

The teenager, who was was granted asylum in the UK in December, soon became an outspoken campaigner for girls' education, going from family to family to persuade them of the importance of keeping their girls in school despite the horrible circumstances of being refugees.

In 2014, Muzoon met Malala and the two girls also pledged to work together to provide Syrian refugee children with access to education.