London: Pakistani teenage rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has donated USD 50,000 to help rebuild UN schools in Gaza that have been damaged during the recent fighting in the enclave.
"We must all work to ensure Palestinian boys and girls, and all children everywhere, receive a quality education in a safe environment. Because without education, there will never be peace," Malala said in Stockholm as she received the prestigious World Children's Prize. Malala, 17, said the money would be channelled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to help rebuild 65 schools in the Palestinian territory.
The money would help children get "quality education" and continue their life, knowing they were not alone and that people were supporting them, she said. Malala, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 and now lives in the UK, was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier in October, alongside India's 60-year-old Kailash Satyarthi for their championing of children's rights.
Malala has her own fund to help small-scale organisations in a number of countries, including Pakistan. She is the first person to receive the children's prize and the Nobel in the same year. The Sweden-based organisers of the children's prize said millions of children around the world had voted for Malala. In remarks published on the UNRWA website, Malala said the organisation was performing "heroic work" to serve children in Gaza.
"The needs are overwhelming - more than half of Gaza's population is under 18 years of age. They want and deserve quality education, hope and real opportunities to build a future," Malala said. "This funding will help rebuild the 65 schools damaged during the recent conflict. Innocent Palestinian children have suffered terribly and for too long," she said.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, UNRWA's commissioner general, said the organisation was "deeply touched" by the gesture. It would "lift the spirits of a quarter of a million UNRWA students in Gaza and boost the morale of our more than 9,000 teaching staff there," he said.
He said Malala had "become a symbol of the boundless potential that lies within each and every child on Earth", and she was "an aspirational figure to the next generation in Palestine and beyond" as well as an inspiration to all. The recent 51-day conflict in Gaza saw entire neighbourhoods flattened and almost one-third of the population uprooted.
The violence killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and more than 70 Israelis. The children's prize also announced two honorary laureates -- John Wood and Indira Ranamagar from Nepal.