SHARJAH- UNHCR, the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, in collaboration with The Big Heart, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, the Emirate of Sharjah will host the IIFMENA “Youth Forum”, in parallel of ‘Investing In the Future: Protecting Refugee Children – MENA’ (IIFMENA), the first conference on refugee child protection in the Middle East and North Africa.
Taking place from the 15th to the 16th of October in Sharjah, the two-day forum, which is being organised by the big Heart and UNCHR in partnership with the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC) and Sharjah Tatweer Forum. Aimed at ensuring communication with the youth and the community, the Youth Forum will engage university and college students and faculty in a series of workshops focused on providing information on the initiatives currently in place to protect children and adolescents and explore ways in which they can contribute to furthering these goals.
Noura Al Noman, Director General of the Executive Office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, said: “One of the greatest tragedies of war and conflict situations is that a very large percentage of those affected are children, resulting in a disenfranchised generation that often have little hope for the future. Taking proactive action to combat the negative effect that war and conflict has on the young must therefore be a top priority. It is vital that we work together to protect the children caught in war in order to secure the future of the next generation in the Arab world and give these children the chance to live full and productive lives.”
Speaking about the Youth Forum in particular, Erum Mazher Alvie, Advisor Management & Development at the Executive Office of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, clarified that one of the important aims of the forum would be to educate young adults on the possibilities of careers in the social sector while simultaneously informing them of the plight of children within displaced communities. In addition the forum will also offer workshops on Social Entrepreneurship. “Very little information is currently available to the youth on the opportunities that exist in this area, an oversight which we intend to address during the forum. Through the workshops on Social Entrepreneurship we will explore the ways in which social entrepreneurship can help displaced communities as well as the indigenous populations in this region, with the aim of inspiring innovative young minds to step up and make a difference,” Alvie went on to remark.
The Youth Forum, which will see in the region of 500 to 600 students and faculty, the Youth Forum will include workshops presented by the UNHCR, Mercy Corps, Ashoka and Sharjah Tatweer Forum among others with the aim of educating and engaging with the youth and leading them toward contributing positively to society in the UAE, the region, and globally. In addition the forum will also feature booths allocated to international and local NGOs in where the students and members of the community will be able to speak to the representatives of different NGOs to learn more about their work in this region and what they are doing to help displaced communities and refugee children in MENA.
The Investing in Future conference, which will be held for the first time outside of UHNCR’s head-quarters in Geneva, is aimed at highlighting the issue of protecting children in the Middle East amidst the growing conflict in this region. IIFMENA also aims to come up with recommendations that support child protection in the region. Featuring a full schedule of sessions aimed at creating proactive policy to support child protection in the region, IIFMENA will bring together leaders, academics, policy makers, heads of international organisations, and donor agencies to study the challenges in the Middle East and propose and agree on solutions to overcome those challenges.