Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi wins 2015 Nansen Refugee Award

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UN Refuge Agency (UNHCR) has named Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi the 2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award winner.

Ms Asifi has dedicated her life to bringing education to refugee girls in Pakistan.

The UNHCR decided to recognize her brave and tireless dedication to education for Afghan refugee girls in the Kot Chandana refugee village in Mianwali, Pakistan.

Ms Asifi who is herself overcoming the struggles of life in exile, and with minimal resources and significant cultural challenges, has guided a thousand refugee girls through their primary education.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres paid tribute to the efforts of the winner of the global humanitarian award: "Access to quality and safe education helps children grow into adults who go on to secure jobs, start businesses and help build their communities – and it makes them less vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Investing in refugee education will allow children to play a part in breaking the cycle of instability and conflict. People like Aqeela Asifi understand that today's refugee children will determine the future of their countries, and the future of our world."

Ms Asifi believes that instilling a belief in the power of education for girls in this generation will transform the opportunities of the next. "When you have mothers who are educated, you will almost certainly have future generations who are educated," she said. "So if you educate girls, you educate generations. I wish for the day when people will remember Afghanistan, not for war, but for its standard of education."

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Khaled Hosseini, said: "Access to education is a basic human right. Yet for millions of refugee children it is a lifeline to a better future which they have been heartbreakingly denied.

"I have met many young refugees who have been torn from everything that makes them feel safe: their homes, their families, their friends and their schools. Investing in their education is an investment in their future, giving them hope and the chance to one day be a part of rebuilding their broken home countries.

"UNHCR is working to give all refugee children the chance to go to school. Aqeela Asifi has shown us all that with courage change can happen. We must continue her fight."