Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in the Bekaa Valley, close to the Syrian border.
“I decided to be in Lebanon because I believe that the voices of the Syrian refugees need to be heard and they have been ignored for so long,” Malala told reporters in a schoolroom decorated with drawings of butterflies.
The Malala Fund, a non-profit organization that supports local education projects, paid for the school that is aimed at providing access to education for more than 200 Syrian refugee girls aged 14 to 18.
“In Lebanon as well as in Jordan, an increasing number of refugees are being turned back at the border,” Malala said. “This is inhuman and this is shameful.”
“I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria,” Yousafzai said in a statement. “On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world–you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria’s children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy–the world’s worst refugee crisis in decades.”
Member of the political committee Nora al-Ameer praises Malala’s visit, stressing that this is a humanitarian and moral model that should be followed. Al-Ameer calls on friendly and sister countries to step up help for Syrian children who have lost their education because of the war waged by the Assad regime on the Syrian people. “Supporting education of children’s education is one of the weapons of combating and eradicating terrorism.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)