UNITED NATIONS: Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has urged world leaders to guarantee all refugee children access to a full 12-year education.
The United Nations is hosting on September 19 the first summit on refugees and migrants, which will be followed the next day by a pledging conference for new offers of aid to refugees hosted by President Barack Obama.
Malala will miss this year’s General Assembly because she is focusing on her education, taking exams and applying for college, but she is sending a report from the Malala Fund, which she founded with her father.
The question of how to deal with over 21 million refugees tops the agenda at this month’s 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. And Malala said that because more children than ever are spending their school years as refugees, education is crucial.
“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,” she said from her home in Birmingham.
Malala’s statement came a few days before the summit, which will take place at UN Headquarters in New York.
“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?” she asked.
“They have the potential to help rebuild safe, peaceful, prosperous countries, but they can’t do this without education.”
Almost 80 percent of all refugee adolescents are out of school, with girls making up the majority, according to the Malala Fund.
Malala urged donors to provide $2.9 billion by September 2019 to correct the problem.
She said refugee girls were wondering how long they can stay out of school before they are forced into early marriages or child labour.
“They’re hoping for more than survival” she said. “And they have the potential to help rebuild safe, peaceful, prosperous countries, but they can’t do this without education.”
Fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, Burundi and South Sudan has contributed to a record number of people who were uprooted last year, according to the U.N. refugee agency, which estimates there are 21.3 million refugees worldwide, half of them children.
Almost 80 percent of all refugee adolescents are out of school, with girls making up the majority of those excluded from education, according to a report issued by the Malala Fund, which campaigns and fundraises for educational causes.
It also blamed donor countries for failing to provide adequate funding for secondary education, and failing to deliver on funding pledges made earlier this year.
The report also criticised wealthy donor countries for diverting resources away from host countries in developing regions, such as Turkey and Lebanon, to meet their own domestic refugee costs.
The report concluded by urging donors to commit to providing $2.9 billion by September 2019 to the Education Cannot Wait Fund, a new body to raise finance for the education of refugee children. APP