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International Peace Prize Dresden Prize

9th February 2020: The 11th International Peace Prize “Dresden Prize” goes to the Syrian educational activist Muzoon Almellehan

11th Dresden Prize honours young Syrian educational activist

Dresden, 5 December 2019 Syrian educational activist and UNICEF Special Envoy Muzoon Almellehan will receive the 11th International Peace Prize “Dresden Prize” at the Dresden Semper Opera on 9 February 2020. The prize, endowed with € 10,000, is sponsored by the Klaus Tschira Foundation.

The 21-year-old Muzoon Almellehan, who now lives in Great Britain, is regarded as one of the strongest and most influential voices in the struggle for education for children in crisis areas. She began her commitment at the age of 14 in a Jordanian refugee camp, where she had fled with her family from Syria. For many of the refugees, participation in educational opportunities was not the most important thing in view of the hopelessness in the camp. But Muzoon went from tent to tent and convinced parents and children of the importance of school.   And she kept saying this sentence: “If you have education, no one can take it away from you”.  The young Syrian saved the future of many children, especially girls.

Refugee children without education

Only a part of the refugee children worldwide can attend a school like in the photo in Jordan. According to UNICEF, up to 27 million children in conflict and crisis areas have no access to education. About three million Syrian children alone – refugees but also those who remained in the country of war – have not attended school for years. And so the crisis in the affected countries does not end with the end of the wars. With children without or with poor education it shifts into the future. The situation is dramatic, even if it is still far too little registered by the public. UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie demands that wealthier nations “close humanitarian funding gaps so that refugee parents do not have to choose between food and school for their children”.

“Napalm Girl” delivers laudatio

In February 2019 Kim Phuc Phan Thi was awarded the 10th International Peace Prize “Dresden-Prize”. She was the little girl burned by napalm who walked naked and screaming across a Vietnamese street in 1972.  Since then the 56 year old Kim Phuc Phan Thi has been the “girl in the photo” or the “Napalm Girl”.   Today she speaks to thousands of people every year. And they listen to her.  When she as woman, who still today suffers from pain from the Napalm attack, speaks of reconciliation, without which there can be no peace.  Kim Phuc and Muzoon both experienced war as children. Today both help other children affected by the war. “It is wonderful that there are such young people as Muzoon who are committed,” says Kim. And: “We need the young people”.

 Hope and chance through music

Anyone who hears the name of the Prohlis  area in Dresden thinks of Hartz IV, anger and hopelessness and AfD. But since two years there is something else, which sounds completely different. In their voluntary social year in Peru, Dresden’s music padagogues Deborah Oehler and Luise Börner learned in a very special way about the power music can have. In one of the poorest areas they helped to build a youth orchestra and back in Dresden they founded a similar project in Prohlis. Meanwhile 80 children play together, German and refugee children. Many come from Syria. And all have fun with music. During their performances the children are celebrated enthusiastically. On 9 February 2020 they will receive the special prize for the 11th Dresden Prize and make music in the opera house.

Scenic reading on the courage of the young people

Like Muzoon Almellehan, there are many very young people all over the world who are engaged in various areas. And they all do this how only young people can do: passionately, sometimes angrily and always unswervingly. And these young fighters against injustice have been around for a long time. Some even had to give up their lives because of their commitment. Like Helmuth Hübener (photo), who was executed on the guillotine at the age of 17 in 1942 as a resistance fighter against the Nazi regime. At the award ceremony on February 9, 2020, pupils of the Dresden International School will present ten examples of particularly committed children and young people in the past and present in a scenic reading.

Ticket sale

Tickets at a price of 5 Euro are available from the Visitor Service of the Semperoper, Schinkelwache, Theaterplatz 2, 01067 Dresden, phone: 0351 4911 705, bestellung@semperoper.de as well as from www.semperoper.de