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Refugee from Syria named as UNICEF goodwill ambassador

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-21 07:27

NEW YORK - The UN Children's Fund on Monday announced the appointment of a 19-year-old female education activist and Syrian refugee as its youngest goodwill ambassador.

The appointment, which came on the eve of World Refugee Day, makes Muzoon Almellehan the first person with official refugee status to become an ambassador for UNICEF.

Muzoon received support from UNICEF while living in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan after fleeing the Syrian conflict along with her family in 2013.

Refugee from Syria named as UNICEF goodwill ambassador

She lived in the camp for three years before being resettled in the United Kingdom. It was during her 18 months in Zaatari that she began advocating for children's access to education, particularly for girls.

"Even as a child, I knew that education was the key to my future, so when I fled Syria, the only belongings I took with me were my school books," said Muzoon.

"As a refugee, I saw what happens when children are forced into early marriage or manual labor - they lose out on education and they lose out on possibilities for the future."

Muzoon recently traveled with UNICEF to Chad, a country where nearly three times as many girls as boys of primary school age in conflict areas are missing out on education, the UN agency said in a news release, adding that she met with children forced out of school due to the Boko Haram conflict in the Lake Chad region.

Since her return, Muzoon has been working to promote understanding of the challenges children affected and uprooted by conflict face in accessing education.

An estimated 25 million children of primary and secondary school are out of school in conflict zones. For children living as refugees, only half are enrolled in primary school and less than a quarter are enrolled in secondary school.


(China Daily 06/21/2017 page11)

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