Refugee Youth Participate in UNHCR Dialogue on Protection in Urban Settings

By Foni Joyce

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GYAC members participated in a panel on refugee children and youth living in cities.

Members of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC) have been in Geneva this week to attend the 11th UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection. The two days of discussions were dedicated to the protection and assistance of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and stateless persons in urban settings, with a particular focus on cities.

We were here to discuss the Global Compact on Refugees, which has been developed to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees and protracted refugee situations. Some of the topics we discussed were the issues facing internally displaced people and stateless people in urban areas and meeting the needs of communities.

The dialogue brought together actors from the humanitarian and development fields to discuss how to engage cities in the protection of forcibly displaced populations in urban settings. The GYAC addressed the question of how youth can act as protection actors within their communities, specifically within urban areas.

On December 19, we hosted an event that focused on risk and resilience in cities. The panelists talked in depth about the challenges children and youth encounter in cities, how to strengthen resilience of refugee children and youth, the opportunities available to them, and the importance of bridging the divide between humanitarian and development actors. Joining members of the GYAC (Mariama Sow, Aya Mohammed, Simon Marot, and Asif Safdary) on the panel were UNICEF youth delegate Kader Diabate and World Economic Forum founder Marieme Jamme. The panelists brought diverse and rich expertise to the discussion.

On the panels we sat on and in our interventions, members of GYAC drew on good practices and lessons learnt from our personal experiences, our communities, and our areas of expertise. We also made recommendations linked to the Global Compact on Refugees and the core action for refugee youth to ensure that the voices of the refugees from all the different groups were reflected and heard in the discussion.

These discussions were timely, especially with the historic adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees this week. One of the agreements within the Global Compact is a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which includes a recommendation that the global community should encourage and support refugee self-reliance. With the piloting of the CRRF in various countries and the ongoing discussions, we hope that many other cities will also learn this week about the good practices that the piloting countries have put in place in response to the rolling out of the CRRF, and will commit to taking part in the implementation of the CRRF.

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Foni Joyce

Foni Joyce is a member of the GYAC. She is a refugee from South Sudan living in Nairobi Kenya

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