Arab League Ambassador, teenage author and medical student, working with the UN to open schools in conflict-affected areas

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SINGAPORE – When he turned 18 last August, the Tunisian Amir Fehri was finishing his sixth book, at the end of his third year of medicine and had already been an ambassador for the Francophonie.

In 2018, aged 15, he was part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s delegation to the Sommet de la Francophonie, a biannual diplomatic summit bringing together political leaders from French-speaking countries.

Mr. Fehri has attracted thousands of followers on social media apps such as Snapchat, where he posts about what he is doing in English, French and Arabic.

He hopes to use his influence to give voice to other young people, especially those whose interests are sidelined or neglected, and works to ensure their access to education.

Speaking to the Straits Times at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Newton on Thursday June 2, Mr Fehri said the Covid-19 pandemic and other global disasters like Russia’s war on Ukraine have impacted on the ability of young people around the world to realize their dreams. and aspirations.

He said: “People often talk about the political side of conflicts and how they are violations of international law, but we don’t talk enough about the young people who are suffering on both the Ukrainian side and the Russian side.

“In places like Afghanistan as well, people don’t talk about things like girls’ access to education anymore.”

Last year, the United States withdrew its army from Afghanistan after 20 years of armed conflict, leading to the return of the Taliban, which had previously restricted education for women in the country.

Mr. Fehri is the son of an Iraqi mother and a Tunisian father who worked for the World Health Organization.

He said he believes in the importance of education as a force for advancement and tolerance that can bring people of different beliefs and backgrounds together.

To that end, he worked with the United Nations to open the first international school in Mosul, a city in northern Iraq. The city has rebuilt after being left in ruins in 2014 following heavy fighting as the Iraqi government and its allies recaptured it from the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria.

The school is expected to open by 2025 and will allow Iraqi students to access curricula from Arab countries and the European Union.

He hopes to build a similar school in Ivory Coast in West Africa, he said, and will also visit Ukraine and Russia by the end of June to see what can be done for the education of young Ukrainian refugees refugees in Romania, he said.

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