London, October 31: Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, the teenage Pakistani girl once shot by Taliban for promoting girls' education, has decided to donate her $50,000 prize to the UN to help rebuild Gaza schools damaged by Israel during the recent conflict.
The 17-year-old was collecting another prestigious award - World's Children's Prize - in Stockholm when she said she would be giving away the money, the Telegraph reported. "Innocent Palestinian children have suffered terribly and for too long," said Malala.
"We must all work to ensure Palestinian boys and girls, and all children everywhere, receive a quality education in a safe environment. Because without education, there will never be peace." The schools that will be helped by her funds were struck by Israeli shells during a seven-week operation to root out Palestinian extremists. Israel claimed that the militants were using schools and mosques as cover to fire missiles into Palestine, allegations denied by the UN.
"The needs are overwhelming - more than half of Gaza's population is under 18 years of age," Malala said in a statement released by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). "They want and deserve quality education, hope and real opportunities to build a future."
Malala was shot in the head by Taliban militants who singled out the then 15-year-old for her activism for girls' rights to attend school in her home country. The UN said that Malala's donation would help with the reconstruction of 65 schools damaged during the conflict, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children, and more than 70 Israelis.