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Malala: World needs to ensure 'bright future' for Syrian children

By Mick Krever, CNN
updated 7:54 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014

(CNN) -- The world risks losing a generation of Syrian children if it ignores their plight, Malala Yousafzai -- the Pakistani girl who made a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head by the Taliban -- told CNN on Tuesday.

"It's a risk to all of us if we ignore them," said Malala, as she is known to her legions of followers.

"People should focus on their bright future, because their bright future means our bright future, and the future of the whole world."

Malala on Tuesday traveled to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan to meet with the young victims of Syria's grinding civil war. She spoke from there with CNN's Hala Gorani.

"So many children, they can't go to school, they cannot get education," said Malala, overlooking the refugee camp.

Shiza Shahid, CEO of The Malala Fund and a family friend, chimed in. "This is a huge crisis and a global responsibility."

"The Malala Fund, with Malala and the team, is hoping to raise a voice of these children and urge the global community to invest in protecting, rehabilitating and educating each child, and through its own resources is also investing in Syrian-led programs to rehabilitate children."

Before Malala was targeted for assassination in 2012 because of her outspoken support for girls' and children's rights, she and family were forced to leave their homes in Pakistan's Swat Valley because of violence.

"I thought that I needed someone to speak for me. And the people of Swat needed someone to speak for them," Malala said.

"Now, when I think of these children, I can feel what they would be feeling now and what they are suffering through. So that's why I think that it's a responsibility to protect these children."

"We should not think that we are far away from this country and we are safe. We should not think like that."

UNICEF says more than 5 million Syrian children are at risk as a result of the war, with more than 1 million living as refugees and more than 10,000 killed.

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