Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on Sunday told world leaders they were failing Syria's children, as spent her 18th birthday Sunday on the Syrian border.
Yousafzai, who was shot by terrorists in her native Pakistan for campaigning for girls' rights, opened a school for more than 200 Syrian girls living in refugee camps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, according to the AFP news agency.
The Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School will offer education and skills training to girls aged 14 to 18.
"I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria," Yousafzai said in a statement received in London.
"I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them,” she added.
"On this day,” continued Yousafzai, “I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world: you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria's children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy — the world's worst refugee crisis in decades."
Malala later met with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam at his home in Beirut, accompanied by her father and Noura Jumblatt, head of the Kayany Foundation who invited Malala to visit, reported AFP.
"Syrian children are suffering the most, being refugees for more than four years, deprived of education," Malala told BBC News.
"The worst thing is that the international community and world leaders are not paying attention and that's what drives me to come here and celebrate my birthday and to say to world leaders: you need to focus on it and you need to invest here, otherwise it will be a generation lost," she added.
Lebanon is hosting nearly 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees, though the total number in the country may be even higher.
The influx has placed strains on Lebanon, which has just four million citizens.
The Lebanese government has prevented the establishment of official refugee camps, giving rise to informal shanties known as "tented settlements" in rural areas.
In October of 2012, Yousafzai was on her way home after school when two gunmen stopped the school van, and shot her in the head after identifying her.
Yousafzai was stabilized by military doctors in Pakistan and then flown for emergency treatment and rehabilitation to Britain, where she lives today.
Last October, Yousafzai was selected to win the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian 60-year-old Kailash Satyarthi.
The committee wrote that Yousafzai "has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls’ rights to education."
Noting on the symbolism of the choice, the committee wrote that it "regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism."
Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the prize, which was infamously awarded to the European Union (EU) for its existence, and to U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009 almost immediately after he assumed office before he had any achievements to his name.