Malala: Refugee children must not be left behind

Student, activist and Malala Fund founder Malala Yousafzai urges world leaders to help refugee children reach for their dreams.

Malala Yousafzai visits a school in northern Iraq. © UNHCR/Cengiz Yar

More children than ever before spend their school years as refugees. Some miss their entire education after their lives have been upended by conflict.

We should not ask a child forced to flee her home to also give up her education and her dreams for the future. And we must recognize that among today’s refugee children are tomorrow’s leaders, on whom we will all depend for peace.

The key to their future, rebuilding their home countries and greater stability around the world, is education. A full 12 years of school for every refugee child gives countries and regions a better chance for peace, economic growth and improved public health.

In refugee camps around the world, I have met thousands of displaced people — and UNHCR is there with them, providing shelter, safety and schools to children in need. They understand that the best way to aid refugees is to help them stand on their own.

I urge world leaders to give serious consideration to long-term consequences of neglecting education for refugee children. Sustainable peace, prosperity and stability cannot be built without them.

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