Malala Yousafzai Says She's 'Heartbroken' Over Donald Trump's Plan For Refugees

The young human rights activist urged Trump "not to turn his back" on children and families.

Malala Yousafzai said Friday that her heart is breaking.

The Pakistani teen activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner released a statement condemning President Donald Trump’s plans for restricting immigrants and refugees to the United States. Friday evening, he signed a document ordering “extreme vetting” for immigrants with the purported intent of “keeping radical Islamic terrorists out” of the United States.

Though Trump had not released further details when Yousafzai issued her statement, a widely circulated draft of the document says his administration will temporarily ban refugees and immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries. Trump also said in an interview on Friday that he would prioritize Christian refugees over others, but the draft of his plan indicates that all refugees of any religion will be banned for at least 120 days.

“I am heartbroken that today President Trump is closing the door on children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war,” Yousafzai said in the statement, which was released by the Malala Fund, her charity focusing on girls’ education.

Yousafzai, who became an international advocate for girls’ education after starting a blog about life under the Taliban, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on a bus home from school in 2012. After her recovery, she founded the Malala Fund and won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17. In 2015, she opened a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugee girls.

Malala Yousafzai on her 19th birthday, at a refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border.
Malala Yousafzai on her 19th birthday, at a refugee camp near the Kenya-Somalia border.
Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

In her statement on Trump’s plans, Yousafzai told the story of a friend named Zaynab who fled wars in Somalia, Yemen and Egypt before coming to the United States as a teen. Today, Yousafzai wrote, Zaynab is in college studying to be a human rights lawyer, but hopes to one day be reunited with a younger sister from whom she was separated in Egypt.

“Today her hope of being reunited with her precious sister dims,” Yousafzai added. “In this time of uncertainty and unrest around the world I ask President Trump not to turn his back on the world’s most defenseless children and families.”

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