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#SOLIDARITY: Malala portrait by Jonathan Yeo to be auctioned in aid of Nigerian girls

A portrait of teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is to be auctioned off with sales proceeds going to Nigerian charities focused on education for girls.

The portrait, by British artist Jonathan Yeo whose previous subjects have included Tony Blair, Kevin Spacey, Dame Doreen Lawrence and Dennis Hopper among others, is expected to raise between $60,000 and $80,000 at the Christie’s auction.

The work was commissioned in 2013, shortly after Malala, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for campaigning for women’s education in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, settled in Birmingham along with her family.

She had been flown to the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a series of life-saving operations.

Last week, the Malala Fund launched a special fund in response to the crisis in Nigeria, where more than 200 girls have been kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram. 

Earlier this week, Malala joined the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign calling them her “sisters”. 

Malala said: “I was shocked and saddened when I heard about the abduction of more than 200 girls by terrorists in Nigeria.  I am very concerned about these innocent girls – my sisters – whose only crime was going to school and learning.

“I believe it is our duty to stand together in solidarity with their parents, families and relatives. We all have a voice and we must speak up and call on the international community and the government of Nigeria to intervene and bring these girls back to their homes safely.

“Together we can create a world where no child will be out of school and no student will fear for her or his safety.”

The girls were kidnapped from a boarding school in a remote part of northern Nigeria exactly a month ago. 

On Tuesday, Boko Haram (which translates into “Books are Forbidden), released a video of some of the girls – a majority of them Christian but who have been forced to convert to Islam since their abduction – and demanded the release of captured militants in return for the girls’ safe release.

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