Sharjah unveils details of first ever international conference on refugee children in the region

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SHARJAH – The Organising Committee of ‘Investing In the Future: Protecting Refugee Children and Adolescents, MENA (IIFMENA) has unveiled the details of the first ever international conference on refugee children issues in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The conference will be organised under the patronage of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah on 15th and 16th of October, in presence of over 300 international figures including leaders, and top officials concerned with the issues of refugee children in the region and the world.

The conference will be held upon invitation from H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, and in collaboration with Big Heart campaign.

The dignitaries, VIPs and senior officials who will attend the conference includes Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan who will deliver a keynote speech on the opening day; Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Dr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, and Lynne Featherstone, DFID minister, UK.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar, who announced the details at a press conference said, “Investing in the Future” conference, which is being held for the first time outside the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, will develop the necessary mechanisms to ensure the protection of refugee children and youth in the Middle East and North Africa region, and provide rights for them, particularly shelter, food, healthcare, psychological rehabilitation and education. In addition, it will ensure that refugee children get the necessary legal documents and access to actively participate in community.

Al Hammadi said that the large number of leaders and government officials, regional and international experts in refugee issues and children protection, will enhance chances of success and facilitate the implementation of the recommendations on regional and international levels, particularly in the presence of influential figures in refugee issues, such as ZainabBangura, Special Representative UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Ahmed Al Hindawi, United Nations Envoy for Youth; and ministers from the UAE, GCC countries, and a number of the refugee host countries.

The director of Salam Ya Seghar spoke about the Youth Forum which will be held on the sidelines of the conference: “The Youth Forum aims to spread awareness among youth on the refugee issues in the MENA region, and highlight a number of important initiatives in refugee protection in the region. The forum includes workshops presented by the UNHCR, and other humanitarian organisations, with the aim to educate, engage and encourage youth to positively contribute to community,” she said.

Mohammed Abu Asaker, the Public Information and Communications officer at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, said, “Investing in the Future conference comes at a critical time, with the increasing number of refugees in the Middle East in the last few years. In the current tragic human conditions, children form more than half the number of refugees in the MENA region. The impact of displacement on children is dire, especially the drop-out school children who are more vulnerable to ignorance and loss”.

He added that the relation between the UNHCR and the Big Heart are excellent and the cooperation is extremely productive, initiatives and efforts for refugee children. He added that holding this international conference for the first time outside the UNHCR headquarters is evidence of this vibrant and solid relation.