Malala Yousafzai visits Kenya’s Dadaab camp on 19th birthday

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Malala Yousafzai in Kenya
Malala Yousafzai speaks at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Photo: Twitter/MalalaFund

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has spent her 19th birthday today by visiting the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab.

During her visit, the Nobel laureate advocate for girls’ education responded to the Kenyan government’s announcement in May that it plans to close Dadaab camp by the end of the year by saying it could create “a generation lost.”

Speaking to The Associated Press, she said any returns of the more than 300,000 refugees to neighbouring Somalia should be voluntary.

“They should not be forced to move.

“As we all know the camp is going to be closed down soon, so I want to make sure that these girls don’t become a generation lost and there are alternative facilities for them to continue with their education.” – Malala Yousafzai

She warned if the camp closes and the girls move to Somalia where there are few schools the “girls will be without education. While here (in the Dadaab camp) they have schools and they are getting their education.”

Malala urged Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has said repatriations from Dadaab will be voluntary and done in a humane way, to take into consideration the need to provide education to the girls.

Explaining why she chose to spend her birthday visiting the camp, Malala explained that on each birthday she chooses a region where girls’ education is neglected and needs attention. “I am here to speak for my unheard sisters of Somalia striving for education every day,” she said.

Since last year, she has been in contact via Skype with a group of girls in Dadaab and had been looking forward to meeting them and others, said her spokesman, Taylor Royle.

Malala won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize after militants shot her in 2012 while she was returning home from school in Pakistan, where she was an outspoken advocate for girls’ education in a highly conservative culture.