The education of young refugees makes sustainable peace possible

Aya Mohammed Abdullah

Event: Geneva Peace Talks 2018
Location: Palais des Nations
Date: 21/09/2018

“We want kids to be surrendered by books, not guns. We want more leaders in this world, not just victims. The refugee community of the future starts with this generation. We want this generation to be educated. We need this youth to build a country.”

Aya Mohammed Abdullah, a student and delegate of the Global Youth Advisory Council of the UN Refugee Agency shares her experience of being a refugee for most of her life. She speaks of the different types of borders she faced (physical, cultural, economic), her motivation to work for peace and the importance of young refugees to access education.

Geneva Peace Talks 2018. Recorded at the Palais des Nations on September 21, 2018.


Aya Mohammed Abdullah

Aya is a 22-year-old who has been a refugee for most of her life. She fled from Iraq to Syria after surviving 6 years of war. In 2011, Aya and her family fled to Turkey when the war began in Syria. In Turkey, Aya began working with partners of the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency in different cities and projects. Her life took a turn when she met Brandon Stanton in 2015. He was interviewing Syrian refugees who were being admitted into the US but had not yet left the country, and Aya was his translator. After learning about her life story, Brandon initiated a petition on the website to attract attention. The petition was signed by over 1 million people. In 2017, Aya and her family resettled in Switzerland, where she is now studying International Relations at Webster University and is a delegate of the Global Youth Advisory Council of the UN Refugee Agency.