Malala Yousafzai Calls For $1.4 Billion to Aid Syrian Refugees

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Malala Yousafzai is turning her attention to the Syrian refugee crisis, which is currently keeping around 700,000 children from attending school, by asking world leaders to donate $1.4 billion to help educate displaced children, saying that if nothing is done, they will become a “lost generation.”

According to reports from the Malala Fund, the organization created by Yousafzai in order to aid in the education of young girls, the 700,000 Syrian refugee children who are currently living in camps throughout Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries in the Middle East do not have access to an education, writes Amelia Abraham for Refinery29.

Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen who shot her in her head while she was riding a bus on the way home from school,. She has worked to push for the educational rights of children across the world.  In 2014, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Her appeal is planned to be made at a Syrian Donors conference in London this week to be co-hosted by the UN and governments from Germany, Norway, and Kuwait.  She is expected to be joined by 17-year-old Muzoon Almellehan, a Syrian girl who is now enrolled in a school in the UK.

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

“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 continued.  “If you want to rebuild the country, you need to educate the children.”

Yousafzai will be asking for governments and other donors to give $1.4 billion to offer aid to the education crisis.  She added that Canada should hold a special responsibility in this due to its previous involvement in the bombing of Islamic State-occupied portions of Syria.  Because of this responsibility, she would like to see the country donate $33 million to the cause.

According to a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, the government is expected to respond to Malala’s request soon.  International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau will be at the conference representing the country.

The website for the “Supporting Syria and the region” conference states that the purpose of the event is to raise funds for humanitarian crises caused by the Syrian war.

There is currently a lack of school spaces available in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.  Put together, the three countries host close to 4 million Syrian refugees.  While support for the crisis continues to decrease, with contributions from the international community totaling 40% of the $8.4 billion appeal made by the United Nations last year, cuts to food rations are becoming more common.  As a result, families are asking their sons to leave schools and work to help make ends meet.  At the same time, daughters are being married off at an earlier age in an effort to save them while also making one less mouth to feed, reports Mark Mackinnon for The Globe and Mail.

Reports from the Malala Fund show that donors to date have given 37% of what is needed to provide the Middle East with the schools and teachers needed to educate the refugees.