We Are Displaced

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We Are Displaced
We Are Displaced is displayed in large letters with Malala Yousafzai and other figures inside the lettering. Above is written Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai. Below is written My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World
U.S. front cover
AuthorMalala Yousafzai
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company (U.S.)
Weidenfeld & Nicolson (U.K.)
Publication date
8 January 2019
Media typePrint

We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World is a 2019 book by Malala Yousafzai. The book was published by Little, Brown and Company in the US and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK. The book follows Yousafzai's own experience being displaced in Pakistan and later forced to move to England, and tells stories from nine other displaced people around the world.[1] The book received positive critical reception and reached the top 10 in The New York Times' bestseller list under the "Young Adult Hardcover" section.


Girl wearing a colourful hijab
Malala Yousafzai in 2015

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani female education activist. Born in Swat Valley in Pakistan on 12 July 1997,[2] she was raised by parents Ziauddin Yousafzai and Tor Pekai Yousafzai alongside two younger brothers Khushal and Atal.[3] At age 11, Malala Yousafzai began writing an anonymous blog for BBC Urdu, detailing her life in Pakistan under the growing influence of the Taliban.[4] Following the blog, she was the subject of a New York Times documentary Class Dismissed,[5] and spoke out for female education in local media. Yousafzai was revealed as the author of the blog in December 2009,[4] and as her public profile rose, she began to receive death threats.[6] On 9 October 2012, a member of the Taliban shot Yousafzai as she was taking a bus from school to her home.[7] She was first sent to a hospital in Peshawar,[8] and later to one in Birmingham.[9] She continued to rise to fame and speak out for the rights of girls; at age 17, she became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate by winning the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.[10]

Yousafzai had two previously published works: I Am Malala, a 2013 memoir co-written with Christina Lamb, for which a youth edition was published in 2014; and Malala's Magic Pencil, a 2017 children's picture book.[11][12] In March 2018, it was announced that Yousafzai's next book We Are Displaced: True Stories of Refugee Lives[13] would be published on 4 September 2018.[1] The book was later delayed, and released on 8 January 2019 by Little, Brown and Company's Young Readers division in the U.S. and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the U.K.[14][15] The book was also published in Australia and New Zealand. Profits from the book will go to Yousafzai's charity Malala Fund.[16]

Figures from the United Nations in 2017 indicated that 68.5 million people worldwide were displaced, with 24 million of these people being refugees.[17] Yousafzai consciously chose "displaced" rather than "refugee" in the book's title to emphasise that "the majority of people are internally displaced rather than refugees".[18] Yousafzai has been carrying out international activism and visiting refugee camps since around 2013, firstly to a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.[19] Yousafzai met several of the girls whose stories are included in We Are Displaced in these refugee camps.[18] Speaking about the book, Yousafzai said that "what tends to get lost in the current refugee crisis is the humanity behind the statistics".[13][20] She further commented that "people become refugees when they have no other option. This is never your first choice."[21] Appearing on CBS This Morning to promote the book, Yousafzai stated of refugees: "We never hear what they want to say, what their dreams are, their aspirations are".[22] As well as crises caused by war and terrorism, Yousafzai wished to highlight refugee stories from those affected by gangs, such as in Latin America.[19]


Girl wearing a pink hijab speaks into a microphone
A chapter of We Are Displaced tells Muzoon Almellehan's story.

The book's first part, "I Am Displaced", details Yousafzai's experience being displaced. She details the rise of the Taliban in Mingora, Pakistan which led to forced displacement, with her family moving between relatives in the Shangla District and Peshawar. Three months later, they returned to Mingora to find the city wrecked. Yousafzai continued local activism which culminated in her being shot in the head by a Taliban member. She was taken to Birmingham, England, for treatment and forced to remain there and start a new life.

The second part of the book, "We Are Displaced", describes the experiences of nine displaced people. Each story is given a short introduction by Yousafzai and then narrated by the subject. Siblings Zaynab and Sabreen were born in Yemen. Their father left and their mother got a travel visa to the United States, so they were raised by their grandmother until her death. The Yemeni Crisis led the children to flee to Egypt in 2012, and Zaynab was kicked out of her uncle's house after she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After recovering in Cairo, Zaynab's visa was granted. Sabreen fled to Italy by boat with a cousin and two friends. Held in inhumane conditions on lengthy bus rides from Cairo to Alexandria, the group were taken across the Mediterranean Sea. After a week, their boat ran out of fuel and they were rescued by the Italian coast guard. Sabreen met a man in a refugee camp in the Netherlands whom she married, and moved with him to Belgium. Meanwhile, Zaynab adjusted to American life.

Syrian girl Muzoon Almellehan was displaced to Jordan after a civil war; in the Zaatari refugee camp, she encouraged girls to attend school, earning her the nickname "the Malala of Syria". Yazidi girl Najla was displaced within Iraq from Sinjar to Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan by ISIS. Najla once left home for five days in a successful attempt to convince her parents to let her go to school; in Dohuk, she taught literacy to children. María was displaced within Colombia. Her father was killed in the Colombian conflict, though this was hidden from María for many years; she fled with her mother and sister from Iscuandé to Cali. Analisa fled from Guatemala after her father died. Scared of her half-brother Oscar, Analisa embarked to Mexico and then the U.S. to stay with another half-brother, Ernesto. After a harrowing journey, Analisa reached Texas, where she was transferred between places nicknamed the hielara ("ice box") and perrera ("dog pound"). She made it to a shelter of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and reached her half-brother Ernesto.

Marie Claire's family fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zambia and applied for refugee status. Aged 12, Marie Claire's mother died in front of her as her parents were brutally attacked. Years later, their refugee status was approved and they were sent to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the U.S. Though she struggled with the education systems in Zambia and the U.S., Marie Claire graduated high school at 19. Jennifer, working with the Church World Service, helped the family adjust to America, and acted as Marie Claire's "American mum". Ajida fled with her husband and children from the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar to Bangladesh, where they are forced to remain in camps. Ajida makes stoves from clay in the camp. Farah was born in Uganda. She grew up in Canada after Idi Amin revoked Asian Ugandans' citizenship. Farah became CEO of Malala Fund.

An epilogue discusses Yousafzai's 2018 visit to Pakistan, while the "About the Contributors" chapter describes each person's current status.


In The Irish News, Luke Rix-Standing gave the book a rating of nine out of ten, praising its "searingly honest vulnerability". Rix-Standing particularly praised Malala's story and her writing style, commenting that her "simple, emotive language" and "short, sharp sentences" let the narrative "speak for itself".[23] Fernanda Santos of The New York Times gave the book a positive review, calling it "stirring and timely". Santos praised its "deeply personal stories" and approved that Yousafzai's introduction to each refugee's story give the reader "easy-to-digest lessons in world affairs".[24]

Nayare Ali of the Deccan Chronicle lauded the book as "an eye-opener to the refugee crisis in the post modern world". Ali stated that it contains "several sad, heart wrenching tales that make you deeply gratified for every blessing in life".[25] In a positive review in The Week, Mandira Nayar opined that "this is a story we need to hear. Again. And again." Nayar praised the book's "powerful picture of exile and hope".[26] A Publishers Weekly review commended the writers' "strength, resilience, and hope in the face of trauma" and praised the "profoundly moving" message of the book.[27]

In the "Young Adult Hardcover" section of The New York Times' bestseller list, We Are Displaced reached position #5 on 27 January 2019 and remained on the list in position #7 the following week.[28][29] On Twitter, business magnate Bill Gates wrote of the book: "I can't think of a better person to bring these stories to light. Congratulations, Malala."[30][31] Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif praised the book's stories as "moving and inspiring in equal measure".[32]


  1. ^ a b Canfield, David (12 March 2018). "Malala Yousafzai is writing about refugees for her next book". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  2. ^ Rowell, Rebecca (1 September 2014). Malala Yousafzai: Education Activist. ABDO. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-61783-897-2. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  3. ^ Adam B. Ellick (2009). Class Dismissed. The New York Times (documentary). Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Pakistani Heroine: How Malala Yousafzai Emerged from Anonymity". Time World. 23 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Young Pakistani Journalist Inspires Fellow Students". Institute of War & Peace Reporting. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  6. ^ Peer, Basharat (10 October 2012). "The Girl Who Wanted To Go To School". The New Yorker. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  7. ^ "'Radio Mullah' sent hit squad after Malala Yousafzai". The Express Tribune. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  8. ^ Mushtaq Yusufza (9 October 2012). "Pakistani teen blogger shot by Taliban 'critical' after surgery". NBC News. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Malala Yousafzai: Pakistani girl shot by Taliban to be treated in Birmingham hospital that treats wounded soldiers". The Telegraph. London. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  10. ^ "Malala Yousafzai becomes youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner". The Express Tribune. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  11. ^ Yousafzai, Malala (2014). I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-316-32793-0.
  12. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (19 April 2017). "Malala Yousafzai pens first picture book". The Bookseller. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b Wilson, Kristian (12 March 2018). "Malala Yousafzai's New Book 'We Are Displaced' Will Tell The True Stories Of Refugees She's Met". Bustle. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  14. ^ "We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai". Little, Brown and Company. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  15. ^ "We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai". Orion Publishing Group. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Out now: Malala's new book, "We Are Displaced"". Malala Fund. 8 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  17. ^ Yousafzai, Malala (8 January 2019). We Are Displaced. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. x. ISBN 9781474610063.
  18. ^ a b Allardice, Lisa (19 January 2019). "Malala Yousafzai on student life, facing critics – and her political ambitions". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  19. ^ a b Fuentes, Tamara (10 January 2019). "10 Interesting Facts About Malala Yousafzai from Her New Book "We Are Displaced"". Seventeen. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  20. ^ "What is Malala Yousafzai up to now?". The Week UK. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  21. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (13 March 2018). "Malala leads Hachette showcase 2018". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on 14 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Malala Yousafzai amplifies voices of refugee girls in new book, "We Are Displaced"". CBS News. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  23. ^ Rix-Standing, Luke (24 January 2019). "Book reviews: Malala Yousafzai's We Are Displaced records true tales of girls' traumas". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  24. ^ Santos, Fernanda (11 January 2019). "Reframing Refugee Children's Stories". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  25. ^ Ali, Nayare (16 January 2019). "Living under the shadow of death". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  26. ^ Nayar, Mandira (18 January 2019). "In her new book, Malala champions the refugee cause". The Week. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  27. ^ "We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Young Adult Hardcover". The New York Times. 27 January 2019. Archived from the original on 12 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  29. ^ "Young Adult Hardcover". The New York Times. 3 February 2019. Archived from the original on 12 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  30. ^ Rehman, Dawood (10 January 2019). "'We Are Displaced': Malala's new book hits the stands". Daily Pakistan. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  31. ^ "Bill Gates congratulates Malala on launch of her new book". The Nation. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Katrina Kaif praises Malala Yousafzai for her book 'We Are Displaced'". The Express Tribune. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.

Further reading[edit]