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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.
Malala Yousafzai talks with school girls at Abrar, a Syrian refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening a school and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters
“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.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (C) blows out the candles on her birthday cake at a new school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, July 12, 2015. Yousafzai celebrated her 18th birthday in Lebanon on Sunday by opening the school and called on world leaders to invest in “books not bullets”. Photo by Jamal Saidi/Reuters
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.
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