Malala Yousafzai calls on countries to open borders to Afghanistan refugees

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Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has called on all countries to open their borders to Afghan refugees amid the Taliban resurgence.

The Pakistani activist, who was shot in the head by the extremist group in 2012 after enraging them with her campaign for girls’ schooling, has also said she is standing up for women whose education has been taken away from them once again.

In an interview due to be aired on BBC Newsnight, the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner spoke about her appeals to world leaders, what life was like living under the Taliban, and how women in Afghanistan will be affected by the takeover.

Ms Yousafzai, 24, told the programme: “I have been making attempts to reach out to them (refugees), to President Biden – I have not yet made contact with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“But, you know, whoever can hear me right now, I think it’s important for them to remember that they have such an important strategic leadership role to play right now.

“And they must take a bold stance for the protection of human rights. Right now, it is important not just for the poor, for peace in Afghanistan, but for peace globally.”

She said that local translators and human rights activists  are in need of “immediate” help, and that countries including the UK and Pakistan should welcome refugees from the warzone.

“Countries need to open their borders to Afghan refugees, to the displaced people,” she said.

“I have sent a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan asking him to allow refugees, but also ensure that the refugee children and girls have access to education, have access to safety and protection, that their futures are not lost, that they can enrol into local schools, they can receive education within those refugee camps.”

Ms Yousafzai also urged the UN to “adopt a resolution that prioritises the safety of the civilians”, particularly “minorities, women and girls”.

She added that she does not want Afghan women and girls to live through what she experienced under Taliban rule in Pakistan.

“We used to hide our books under our scarves,” she recalled.

“Women were not allowed to go to markets. There were clearly people. Taliban gunmen would be standing there telling women that they cannot work, they cannot go shopping, girls cannot go to school.

“And that was clearly our life under the Taliban. That was clearly also the life of many women in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.

“And it has continued to be the life of many Afghan women over the past many, many years in areas where Taliban had control.

“So I do not want to see Afghan war gone, girls and women living through that those times.

“And again, that’s why I am standing up for them. I am raising my voice for them. We cannot accept this. We cannot live in a world where a girl is denied her right to education.”

She added: “They’re still raising their voices. They are brave, they’re strong, and they keep raising their voices. And we must give more opportunities and time to them to tell us what is what is it that needs to be done for them, for the peace in Afghanistan.”

The interview with Ms Yousafzai will air at 10.30pm on BBC2.

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