GENEVA / NANSEN REFUGEE AWARD

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05-Oct-2015 00:02:00
Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi, who has dedicated her life to bringing education to refugee girls in Pakistan, is awarded the 2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award. UNHCR

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STORY: GENEVA / NANSEN REFUGEE AWARD
TRT: 02:00
SOURCE: UNHCR
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / DARI / NATS

DATELINE: 05 OCTOBER 2015, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE, 2-8 JUNE, 2015, MIANWALI, PAKISTAN

SHOTLIST:

05 OCTOBER 2015, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres walking on stage
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
“A woman refugee without any resources living in a very conservative society, so conservative that there was not a name for the community to call her, there was not name to designate a woman teacher. And against all odds was able to develop this wonderful project that is responsible for more than 1000 girls, refugee Afghan girls in Pakistan, to have full access to an adequate education.”
3. Wide shot, Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi, winner of the 2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award, walking on stage
4. Various shots, Asifi receiving award
5. SOUNDBITE (Dari) Aqeela Asifi, Afghan refugee teacher and Nansen Refugee Award winner:
“When I first set-up my school, I was not very optimistic about the success of my mission but today when I look back I feel I have achieved more than what I envisaged. This success is beyond my expectations.”
6. Wide shot, stage and audience applauding

FILE, 2-8 JUNE, 2015, MIANWALI, PAKISTAN
7. Various shots, Asifi teaching girls in class
8. Various shots, refugee girls in school yard

STORYLINE:

The UNHCR chief awarded on Monday (October 05) in Geneva, one of the humanitarian world’s most prestigious awards, the Nansen Refugee Award, to the Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi.

Asifi, 49, is being recognised for her brave and tireless dedication to education for Afghan refugee girls in the Kot Chandana refugee village in Mianwali, Pakistan.

A former teacher, Asifi fled from Kabul with her family in 1992, finding safety in the remote refugee settlement of Kot Chandana. Dismayed by the lack of schooling for girls there, Asifi convinced the local community to let her teach. She started with just a handful of pupils in a makeshift school tent. Today, more than 1,000 girls are studying through to the eighth grade, and more schools have opened, catering for the education of some 1,500 girls and boys.

Shortly before handing the coveted award to Asifi, Antonio Guterres said “a woman refugee without any resource, living in a very conservative society, so conservative that there was not a name for the community to call her, there was not name to designate a woman teacher. And against all odds was able to develop this wonderful project that is responsible for more than 1000 girls, refugee Afghan girls in Pakistan, to have full access to an adequate education.”

Afghanistan is the largest, most protracted refugee crisis in the world. Over 2.6 million Afghans currently live in exile and over half of them are children.

Access to education is vital for successful repatriation, resettlement or local integration for refugees. Yet globally it's estimated that only one in every two refugee children are able to go to primary school and only one in four attend secondary school. And for Afghan refugees in Pakistan this falls further, with approximately 80 per cent of children currently out of school.

Asifi told audiences “when I first set-up my school, I was not very optimistic about the success of my mission but today when I look back I feel I have achieved more than what I envisaged. This success is beyond my expectations.”

UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award honours extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced, and names Eleanor Roosevelt, Graça Machel and Luciano Pavarotti among its laureates.
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