A 19-year-old Syrian refugee has become the first official with refugee status to become an Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
Muzoon Almellehan has been appointed as the international organisation’s newest and youngest goodwill ambassador.
Announcing Muzoon’s appointment on the eve of World Refugee Day, Unicef Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said: “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 along with her family in 2013. She lived as refugee for three years in Jordan before being resettled in the United Kingdom. It was during her 18 months in Jordan’s Za’atari camp 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,” remarked Muzoon.
As a refugee, I saw what happens when children are forced into early marriage or manual labour – 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.
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 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.
It’s thought that an estimated 25 million children of primary and secondary school age 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.