First UNICEF female refugee Goodwill Ambassador



Tue, 20 Jun 2017 - 08:27 GMT


Tue, 20 Jun 2017 - 08:27 GMT

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan - courtesy of UNICEF

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan - courtesy of UNICEF

CAIRO – 20 June 2017: On June 19, the eve of the World Refugee Day, in a historic first the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced in a press release the appointment of the first person with official refugee status Muzoon Almellehan as the newest and youngest Goodwill Ambassador.

According to UNICEF, “Protracted crises present complex challenges. Refugees spend on average 17 years displaced, almost an entire childhood.”

The 19 years old Muzoon, received support from UNICEF while living in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. According to the statement, Muzzon “follows in the footsteps of the late Audrey Hepburn, a Goodwill Ambassador who was also supported by UNICEF as a child.”

“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. That’s why I am proud to be working with UNICEF to help give these children a voice and to get them into school.”

The UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said in the statement, “Muzoon's story of bravery and fortitude inspires us all. We are very proud she will now become an Ambassador for UNICEF and children around the world.”

Muzoon fled the conflict in Syria with her family in 2013. She lived as a refugee for three years in Jordan before resettling in the United Kingdom. During her 18 months in the Za’atari camp, she was advocating for children’s access to education, particularly for girls.

In a video message, Muzoon says “Dear fellow refugee, I want you to know that life will get better.”

Muzoon recently travelled 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. 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, noted UNICEF.

UNICEF adopted the theme #achildisachild for this year’s World Refugee Day to highlight that

Education is one of the key areas for child refugees’ protection. According to UNICEF, an estimated 25 million children of primary and secondary school are out of school in conflict zones. Refugee children and adolescents are five times more likely to be out of school, as only half are enrolled in primary school and less than a quarter are enrolled in secondary school. Sex segregated data show that girls affected by conflict are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.

Furthermore, education in emergencies is severely underfunded. Since 2010, less than 2 percent of humanitarian funding has been spent on education. At present, some $8.5 billion are needed annually to close this widening gap.

UNICEF data also show that across the world nearly 50 million children have been uprooted with more than half of them affected by conflicts. UNICEF reports 75,000 asylum claims are from children travelling alone or separated from parents.



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