Zannah Mustapha: Winner of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award

Zannah Mustapha: Winner of UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award

Nigerian lawyer Zannah Mustapha was awarded the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees prize for his efforts to educate the children of Boko Haram soldiers as well as orphans who lost their parents due to Boko Haram’s violence.

Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group located in Northern Nigeria that has murdered over tens of thousands of people and orphaned thousands of children. These orphans have been displaced throughout the country and have little to no support in restarting their lives in Nigeria. Zannah Mustapha, living in the midst of this terror, stepped up and decided to make a change to better the lives of the children from both sides of the conflict.

Mustapha founded the Future Prowess Islamic Foundation School, by providing the children with fundamental resources such as food, water, and shelter, turning a blind eye to whether their parents were victims of Boko Haram’s terror or if their parents were the ones invoking that terror. The school supplies the children with free education, allowing them to expand their horizons and hopefully get a foot on the right direction in terms of maintaining a stable lifestyle.
Additionally, Mustapha was the appointed lawyer to broker the release of 82 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls from Boko Haram. These girls were taken against their will by the terror group and held for nearly three years. Mustafa’s mediation was a key in the successful return of these girls, now women, to their homes.

Throughout his life, Mustapha has fought to reinspire and rehabilitate the youth of Nigeria affected by Boko Haram. It is no surprise that the UNHRC award was given to Mustapha because of  his impactful contributions to the community in which he lives. However, his accomplishments should inspire more than just the children who have been saved from the cycle of violence of poverty; his actions should inspire Nigeria and other countries to not look at children of terrorists and extremists as lost causes. Mustapha is peacefully and meticulously resolving one of the largest issues in Nigeria single handedly. If one man can save hundreds of lives, it brings the daunting inquiry: what can you do?

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