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UAE teen a finalist for International Children's Peace Prize

DUBAI // A teenager from the UAE is one of the top three finalists for this year’s International Children’s Peace Prize.

Kehkashan Basu, 16, a pupil at Deira International School in Dubai, was selected from a record 120 entries by the international children’s rights organisation KidsRights, which runs the annual competition.

The Indian, who was nominated for the prize by her father, has been campaigning to protect the environment since childhood.

The teenager’s “green crusade” began when she was 8 and organised an awareness-raising campaign for recycling waste in her Dubai neighbourhood.

“I haven’t looked back ever since,” said Kehkashan.

In 2012, she founded Green Hope, which runs waste-collection, beach-cleaning and awareness campaigns.

Through a series of campaigns and lectures, she has demonstrated to thousands of pupils and university students how important it is to properly care for the environment, according to KidsRights.

Kehkashan has also addressed various international conferences and Green Hope is now active in 10 countries, with more than 1,000 volunteers.

Kehkashan said the selection was a recognition not just for her but for all those in her organisation.

“This is a vindication about the power and potential of young people. All of us can be change-makers if we set our sights on it,” she said.

Now in its 12th year, the International Children’s Peace Prize is awarded to a child who fights for children’s rights.

Previous winners include Nkosi Johnson, who fought for the rights of children with HIV-Aids, and Malala Yousafzai, who won the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2013.

This year’s finalists include Divina Maloum, 12, from Cameroon, and Muzoon Allmelehan, 18, from Syria. The winner will be announced in The Hague on December 2 by former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, who will present the prize.

The winner receives a statuette that depicts a child setting the world in motion, and a study grant and worldwide platform to promote their ideals and causes for children’s rights.

KidsRights invests €100,000 (Dh389,390) in projects in the winner’s home country that are connected to his or her area of work.

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