Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and advocate for the rights of women and girls across the globe spent her 18th birthday on Sunday opening the Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School in Lebanon, near the Syrian border.
The school will serve around 200 Syrian girls living in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley region along the Lebanese border.
“I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” Yousafzai said in a statement.
One day after a World Population Day statement from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamenting the plight of refugees, specifically women and girls, Yousafzai sent a similar message:
“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.”
As of July 9 there are more than four million Syrians living as refugees, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Yousafzai had previously asked world leaders to give an additional $39 billion each year to secure 12 years of free schooling for children around the world, ahead of an education summit in Norway on July 6.