CAIRO - Deemed as a symbol of girls' struggle for education, Pakistani education activist Malala Yousufzai has launched a new initiative towards raising $500 million to provide education for a massive influx of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
"I totally support you. You are very brave," Malala said as she spoke via Skype with two refugees, Zahra and Om Kolthoum Katou, who have been living in Lebanon for the last year, The Huffington Post reported.
"I believe that you will get your education, that you will go to school - and that no one can stop you."
The new initiative was suggested as the result of work between Malala and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown; a UN Special Envoy, and rights organization "A World at School.
According to the a statement issued from A World at School, the activist will work to raise $500 million over the next three years to provide education to the 300,000 Syrian school-age children living in Lebanon.
A World at School called the initiative biggest single humanitarian initiative so far.
A UNICEF report issued last week warned that almost two million Syrian children have dropped out of school in last year, amounting to almost 40 percent of all students between the first and ninth grades.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, more than 700,000 Syrians have fled to Lebanon, constituting nearly 20 percent of the country's population, NBC notes.
In Lebanon, the government estimates that there will be close to 550,000 school-aged Syrian children in the country by the end of this year, in addition to the 300,000 Lebanese children in the public school system.
Two weeks ago, UN figures said the number of Syrians forced to seek shelter abroad since civil war began in March 2011 passed the 2 million mark with no sign of the outflow ending soon.
For a country that was close to achieving universal primary education before the conflict started, the numbers are staggering said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
In August, Malala won the International Children's Peace Prize for her dedication to promoting education.
Malala stole international attention last month after she was shot by Taliban militants over her campaign to encourage more girls to go to schools in Pakistan.
She now lives and attends school in England.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net