Syrian Refugee Becomes the Youngest U.N. Goodwill Ambassador

19-year-old Muzoon Almellehan, known as “Malala of Syria,” appointed as newest and youngest UNICEF representative on World Refugee Day

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has appointed 19-year-old Syrian activist Muzoon Almellehan as its youngest ever goodwill ambassador.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth expressed his happiness and pride at the appointment, saying: “Muzoon's story of bravery and fortitude inspires us all,” adding, “We are very proud she will now become an ambassador for UNICEF and children around the world.”

The U.N.'s appointment of Almellehan came on World Refugee Day in a message of support intended for every refugee wherever they may be.

Almellehan directed a message to refugees around the world in which she said: “My dear refugee, I want you to know that life will improve. Not too long ago, my family and I were in your position. We were exhausted and scared. We did not know what tomorrow would bring. I was 14 years old, in the last month of the ninth grade, when the bombing started. I loved my home. It was a happy place. But we were forced to leave everything and look for another place to start again.”

She added: “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.”

Almellehan is from Daraa province in southern Syria. She has worked in Zaatari camp in Jordan since arriving there in 2013, helping children pursue education. She was on the 2015 list of most influential women in the world.

She has been called the “Malala of Syria” in a reference to Malala Yousafzai, who the Taliban movement tried to assassinate because of her campaigning for education.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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