Malala on a mission to free the girl-child

While most of us were trying to figure out ways to debase and debauch ourselves on our 19th birthday Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai was still championing the rights of others towards a free world. The youngest ever Nobel Prize winner on her recent visit to the country, had the Dadaab refugee camp close to her heart.

The world’s largest refugee camp is set to have a large population reduction by the Kenyan government that seeks to send about half of its more than 300,000 asylum seekers back to Somalia due to increased threats of terrorism. Malala, who is a survivor of terrorism herself, and a strong campaigner of education of the girl-child revealed that there were not enough schools in Somalia, which is plagued will internal strife. She opined that if refugees were forcefully evicted from the camp, the girls would be married of while they were still very young.

The Nobel Laureate admitted that she herself would probably have suffered the same fate, “If they (girls) do not go to school, then they get married at a very early age, and the same would have been my future if I couldn’t go to school,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

In May the government announced that it would be closing Dadaab by the end of November 2016. International and public pressures made the government reassess the situation and do an about-turn.

Dadaab suffers from lack of proper infrastructure, overcrowding, malnutrition and widespread infectious diseases, plus the absence of suitable education facilities in the camp also exposes young girls to prostitution and other social vices. But it has turned into a community in and of itself and it seems to be a better option than returning to war-torn Somalia.

Malala said that every year during her birthday, she chooses a region where girls’ education is not considered a priority and she has stayed true to her promise. On her 17th birthday she visited the parents of girls abducted by Boko Haram and spent her 18th birthday with Syrian refugees. Which should be something to commend all on its own.

In interview with Associated Press she urged the president to consider the need to provide education to the children in the camp. President Uhuru Kenyatta had announced that the transfers would be made voluntarily but with the ever-looming presence of the Al-Shabaab extremist group this will be one issue that the government will have to play by ear.

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