Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani children's rights advocate and Nobel Peace prize winner, celebrated her 18th birthday on Sunday in Lebanon, where she opened a school in a refugee settlement.
"Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world's children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets," she said in a speech, Reuters reported
"I decided to be in Lebanon because I believe that the voices of the Syrian refugees need to be heard and they have been ignored for so long."
Of the 4 million refugees created by the Syrian war, 1.2 million have settled in Lebanon. Of the roughly 500,000 school-age children in Lebanon, only 20 percent receive a formal education.
The new school is located in Bekaa Valley, not far from the Syrian border, and was paid for by The Malala Fund. It will help 200 girls from ages 14 to 18.
Recently, Lebanese officials have stated that the country cannot handle any further influx of refugees, and Yousafzai decried this stance.
"In Lebanon as well as in Jordan, an increasing number of refugees are being turned back at the border," she said. "This is inhuman and this is shameful."
After the speech and ribbon cutting ceremony, Yousafzai was presented with a classic birthday cake, complete with birthday candles.
that she was moved to tears when asked if she had any advice for the girls who would benefit from the school.
"They are amazing, I don't think they need any message, I don't think they need any other advice because they know that education is very important for them," she said.
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