Zannah Mustapha, a Nigerian lawyer, who helped to secure the release of dozens of Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 was, yesterday, announced the winner of Nansen Refugee Award, by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, for providing education for children displaced by violence in the North-East.
Mustapha is the founder of two schools that offer free education, meals and healthcare to its pupils, and even enrol children born to Boko Haram fighters to learn alongside those orphaned by the Islamist group’s eight-year insurgency.
The award, which comes with $150,000 to fund a project complementing their existing work, has been won in the past by Eleanor Roosevelt and Luciano Pavarotti.
“I am happy and motiva-ted to do more; I will scale up my efforts,” Mustapha told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State.
“Some of the students that started in my school have graduated, and they are now going into university— I can use this money to help them complete the cycle,” Mustapha added.
UNHCR Chief, Filippo Grandi, hailed Mustapha for helping to foster peace and rebuild communities devastated by violence.
“Education is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome the horrors of violence and forced displacement,” Grandi said in a statement.