Nujeen Mustafa (also translated Noujain Mustaffa, Arabic نوجين مصطفى) is a Kurdish Syrian refugee and activist with cerebral palsy. She was raised in Kobane, Syria, and gained notoriety after travelling 3,500 miles (5,600 km) by wheelchair, fleeing conflict in the Syrian Civil War, before arriving and resettling in Germany. She was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women in 2018, and her story was featured on the television show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In 2019 she became the first disabled person to brief the United Nations Security Council, and was the recipient of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism from the Human Rights Watch. She has co-authored two books about her experiences. She resides in Wesseling where she attends a school for the disabled.
- Count us, because we count too. This should not be just another meeting where we make grand statements and then move on...You can and should do more, to ensure that people with disabilities, are included in all aspects of your work – we can’t wait any longer.
- Speaking to the United Nations Security Council, as quoted in ‘You can and should do more’ to include people with disabilities, wheelchair-bound Syrian advocate tells Security Council in searing speech. United Nations News. Retrieved on 7 May 2019.
- The most exciting part! The kids were crying around me and I felt like a crazy person because I was the only one who was smiling the whole time. Sometimes it’s good to be too young to be aware of what’s going on around you. Maybe I was too young to realise [the danger].
- Regarding the sea crossing into Greece as a refugee, as quoted in O'Connor, Joanne (2015-12-20). "Nujeen Mustafa: ‘Sometimes it’s good to be unaware. Maybe I was too young to realise the danger’" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- You feel like you’re in a constant test. With terror attacks happening in Europe (such as in Berlin and Ansbach last year, and recent attacks in London and Manchester) it puts even more pressure on refugees. You feel guilty until proven innocent. It pushes the button for us to work harder and prove that we think it’s wrong, too.
- When asked if she felt the need to prove she wasn't "a problem", as quoted in Young-Powell, Abby (2017-06-19). "What Nujeen Mustafa did next: 'As a refugee I feel I'm in a constant test'" (in en-GB). The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- For me, it meant not being able to go to school, hang out with friends or go to the cinema. It was almost like house arrest. Having a disability in Syria often means that you are hidden away. You confront shame, discrimination and physical barriers. You are someone who is pitied.
- In her 2019 briefing to the United Nations Security Council on life in Syria prior to the beginning of the country's civil war in 2011, as quoted in "Disabled Syrian Woman Tells UN: ‘We Are Invisible’". Voice of America. Retrieved on 7 May 2019.
- I feel like Merkel is under pressure because some people are bad ambassadors of the refugees, and they are not representing a good image of us. What I would like to say is that she is doing good for the EU and for Germany: Germany is getting better from the love from refugees. She’s doing good, and I hope she keeps us.
- In reference to the policies of Angela Merkel, as quoted in Oltermann, Phillip (September 19, 2016). "‘I hope Merkel keeps us’: how Nujeen Mustafa travelled from Syria to Germany in a wheelchair". The Guardian. Retrieved on 7 May 2019.
Quotes about Nujeen Mustafa
- [Coming back to life was not hard] You know what's hard? Getting from Syria to Germany: There are some amazing people coming through that border. This amazing 16-year-old girl, Nujeen Mustafa, she's our kind of people.
- The Days of Our Lives character EJ DiMera on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, when he was reunited with fellow character Sami Brady as a skit performed for Mustafa, who was reportedly upset that EJ had died in the plot of the show, as quoted in "Teen flees Syria in a wheelchair, reaches Germany, writes book". ABC Online. October 19, 2016. Retrieved on 7 May 2019.