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Giant Syrian refugee girl puppet symbol of hope at COP26
Glasgow, Nov 10 - Representing the thousands of child refugees, a 3.5-metre (11-foot) tall puppet of a young Syrian that has travelled 8,000km from the Syrian border arrived at COP26 to raise awareness of the disproportionate impact of climate change on refugee women and girls around the world.
She reached the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) on Tuesday in this Scottish city where heads of state, climate experts and campaigners are negotiating for coordinated action to tackle climate change.
Accompanied by a soundscape of youth voices, the puppet named 'Little Amal' surprised attendants on Gender Day on Tuesday's plenary when it walked up the stairs and joined Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean for a hug and a gift exchange.
"Both of us have embarked here for a journey, from two very different places, but we are connected by the fact that we are living in a broken world that systemically has marginalised women and girls. Especially women and girls from vulnerable communities," Fruean told the plenary.
The young activist reminded participants that the brunt of the climate emergency which amplifies existent inequalities is often felt harder by women.
"Amal brought seeds to physically share, to inspire, seeds represent hope. The beautiful thing about seeds is that you have to be selfless enough to be content in the fact that you might not eat the fruit or bear the flowers but feel it was worth it knowing that your children will live with its beauty," she said, using seeds as a metaphor for the decisions being taken at COP26 for the future of the planet.
Fruean highlighted that seeds need to be watered, pruned and nurtured to bear fruit and flowers, inviting delegates to keep up their work after the conference finishes.
At COP26 till Thursday the Syrian refugee will be meeting global leaders to demand they show the compassion and vision needed to prevent future displacement while providing safety and security for those forced to flee.
Little Amal travelled 8,000km as part of The Walk in support of refugees.
She has been through Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and France, following a route that a child migrant from Syria might take.
Speaking at a Gender Day event, COP26 President Alok Sharma said, "Today is gender day because gender and climate are profoundly intertwined. The impact of climate change (affects) women and girls disproportionately," urging to empower and support women.
"Little Amal, and the Syrian girls it represents, are not alone in their distress: 80 per cent of the displaced by climate related disasters and changes around the world are women and girls.
"For millennia, women have had a special relationship with nature. They contribute enormously to the well-being and sustainable development of their communities, as well as to the maintenance of the planet's ecosystems, biological diversity and natural resources.
"Women in developing countries are generally the first to respond to managing the environmental capital that surrounds them. From collecting water for cooking and cleaning, using the land for livestock, foraging for food in rivers and reefs, and collecting firewood, women all over the planet use and interact with natural resources and ecosystems daily."
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other UN agencies, women are also the first to feel the effects of climate change when they are forced to travel longer and longer distances to find what they need to feed their families.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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