Asifi wins UN award for educating refugee girls
The 49-year-old left Kabul with her family in 1992 and ended up living in a remote refugee settlement in Kot Chandna in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where most girls were excluded from school.
With her meagre resources, she won over the community and persuaded parents to send their daughters to school. Today more than a thousand children attend permanent schools in the village.
A statement from UNHCR said the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony would takes place next month in Geneva. The winner gets $100,000 to fund a project complementing their existing work.
Asifi was quoted as saying: “When you have mothers who are educated, you will almost certainly have future generations who are educated. I wish for the day when people will remember Afghanistan, not for war, but for its standard of education.”
Over 2.6 million Afghans currently live in exile, more than 50 percent children. Access to education is vital for successful repatriation, resettlement or local integration, according to the UN.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres paid tribute to the efforts of the winner of the global humanitarian award. "Access to quality and safe education helps children grow into adults who go on to secure jobs, start businesses and help build their communities - and it makes them less vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
“Investing in refugee education will allow children to play a part in breaking the cycle of instability and conflict. People like Aqeela Asifi understand that today's refugee children will determine the future of their countries, and the future of our world."
UNHCR said it had embarked on a strategy to assist remaining Afghan refugees to return home. A key element of this is ensuring they can access quality education. A meeting in early October in Geneva will seek to advance this strategy with key regional partners.
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