Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, ‘Investing in the Future: Protecting Refugee Children and Adolescents’ (IIFMENA Conference) will kick off today morning (Wednesday, 15 October) at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in Sharjah.
The conference is being held upon invitation from Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.
The conference brings together over 300 global leaders, government officials, experts and academics concerned with the issues of refugee children.
The keynote speakers and prominent figures include Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan who will deliver a keynote speech on the opening day; AntónioGuterres, 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; Lynne Featherstone, Minister of the UK Department of International Development; and Ann Richard, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, United States of America.
The conference features panel discussions, round-tables, workshops and sessions, starting from 8:30am until 6pm, over two days.
Day 1 of the conference will see varied-themed sessions that will touch on different topics, including a high level panel discussion entitled “Towards Better Protection of Refugee Children and Adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa region”, and another panel discussion called “Enhancing Protection of Displaced Children: The Convergences of National and International Legal Frameworks.”
Four parallel sessions will also be held on the first day of the conference, including “Protecting Innocence: Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence”, “A Generation Marked by Violence: Children Affected by Armed Conflict”, “Every Child Counts: Birth Registration and Legal Documentation”, and the fourth session entitled “Addressing Exploitation and Separation: Children First.”
On Day 2, the morning sessions will focus on the theme ‘Participation for Protection’, with its first panel discussion entitled “Participation of Displaced Children and Adolescents in their Own Protection”.
Roundtable discussions will feature three parallel sessions, namely “Live and Learn Safe: Protecting Children through Education”, “Tapping into Potential: Participation of Adolescents and Youth”, and “The Role of Families and Communities in Protecting Children.”
Under the theme “Protection through Partnership”, the evening roundtable discussions will highlight the need to engage various sectors to make a positive change at various humanitarian levels.
This will be followed by three parallel sessions: “Partnership Building for Protection of Refugee Children”, “Partnerships with Private Sector for Children”, and “Refugees and the Media”.
Meanwhile, the IIFMENA Youth Forum, which will run parallel to the conference, will discuss very important topics, including the definition of humanitarian work, innovation in the social field, empowering underprivileged individuals to achieve their financial independence, ways of enhancing social partnership, and education in emergency cases. The forum will also include workshops to help both educate the youth and raise youth awareness on refugee issues, while providing them with information about initiatives currently in place to protect children and young people.
The forum will also include an exhibition on the pictures of refugee children.
The IIFMENA conference aims to unite efforts and potential of all parties, and draw up a comprehensive and unified strategy to help refugee children as well as ensure a better future for them, be provided with their full rights, especially their right to shelter, food, healthcare, psychological treatment and education.