Fifteen-year-old Cameroonian Divina Maloum has won a children’s international peace prize for her work with young people who have suffered extremist violence, particularly in the north of her country.
The prize was awarded by Dutch organisation KidsRights, which says it wants children to be recognised for their efforts to improve their own situation. Environmental activist Greta Thunberg also won the award alongside Ms Maloum.
In 2014, the Cameroonian teenager founded the Children for Peace movement to work with child victims of terror.
She goes to communities to talk to children about their rights and tell them that they do not have to be drawn into the violence.
Boko Haram – which is based in Nigeria – has been carrying out attacks over the border in Cameroon since 2014.
The group often recruit children – particularly girls – to carry out attacks. A video produced by KidsRights shows Ms Maloum warning young Cameroonians not to get involved.
She can be seen displaying a cartoon, with the title “I’m not a hero when I carry bombs”, which shows a young girl refusing to wear a suicide vest.
Ms Maloum has “organised an inter-community children’s peace camp, established peace clubs in mosques, and together with other children, made a children’s declaration against violent extremism”, KidsRights says.
Accepting the award in The Hague on Wednesday, she said that “to end violence and build peace we need children” and she dedicated her award “to all children who are suffering atrocities due to war”.
She wrapped up her speech saying: “I invite my fellow children around the world to stand up for their rights.”