Global Refugee Youth Consultations

 

A year on from the Global Refugee Youth Consultations,  NSW's Apajok Biar returned to the UNHCR NGO Consultations in Geneva in June - representing and sharing the ideas, issues and experiences of young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds living in Australia.

"It feels so, so surreal, I have always wanted to advocate at an international platform," said Apajok, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and arrived in Australia with her family as a curious two year old. "However, I never believed I would be able to do it...until now. I am so happy."

At the Opening Plenary of the consultations she asked High Commissioner Filippo Grandi about how young people would be recognised in the Global Compact.

She gave a presentation following up on the Global Refugee Youth Consultations, speaking about why meaningfully engaging young people remains essential for prevention, response and future recovery, especially in the context of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Global Compact for refugees.

She recommended that any youth engagement should incorporate co-design.

"To be able to genuinely listen to the youth: not to be tokenistic, but actually listen to them, and have them be an active part...not only in the planning, but the implementing of projects involving future youth," she said.

"I also ask you to support their ideas. They might be a bit different and more creative, but definitely support them and encourage them.

"The reason it is important for refugee youth to be included in the CRFF and the Global Compact is because our needs are complex, we need to be recognised...we can't just be moulded in with the adults and children. We have skills that we can help you with, and we are willing to assist you.

"We are not just now, we are the future."
 
What were the Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC)? 

The GRYC was a joint initiative of the UNHCR and the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, supported by the Youth and Adolescents in Emergencies (YAE) Group.

In consultations across 22 countries between October 2016 and June 2016, 1,267 refugee young people participated to amplify youth voices in decisions that affect them. 

The Australian consultations, which involved 555 young people - coordinated through a partnership between MYAN and RCOA - identified 11 key challenges and 32 key recommendations to act on in the Speaking Up report.

These consultations were seen as the beginning of a process - continuing to develop the leadership, capacity, and futures of refugee youth everywhere - and informed a Global Youth Workshop and the UNHCR-NGO Consultations.  Held in Geneva in June 2016, they attracted youth delegates from across the world who came to share the views and recommendations of young people consulted. Australia was represented by Arash Boardbar, Arif Hazara, Elizabeth Lang and Sarah Yahya. Read more here.

The GRYC Global Youth Workshop resulted in the development of 7 Core Actions for Refugee Youth and the global report, We believe in youth: Global Refugee Youth Consultation Final Report, which were launched in September 2016.  In December 2016 the delegates returned to Geneva to discuss plans for implementing these seven priority actions.

 

SPEAKING UP: The Global Refugee Youth Consultations in Australia Report

This report presents the ideas and recommendations of more than 500 young people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds who participated in consultations across Australia. 

The report is part of a global project that aims to amplify refugee youth voices in decisions that affect them, and contributes to national and international advocacy on issues for refugee and asylum seeking young people.

The full report is available here.