Refugee youth seldom consulted - Report

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - Refugee youth are seldom consulted, frequently overlooked, and often unable to fully participate in decision making and their talents, energy, and potential remain largely untapped, according to a report from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC).

A report quoted by humanitarian charity, Norwegian Refugee Council, said in 2015 and 2016, UNHCR and WRC undertook the Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC) to amplify “voices” of youth in decisions that affect them.

It said the project engaged more than 1,200 young people, aged 15-24 years old, who participated in 56 national and sub-national consultations held in 22 countries.

The consultations were “the beginning of a process that will continue to develop the leadership, capacity, and futures of refugee youth everywhere”, according to UNHCR and WRC.

The report said refugee youth want the same things that young people want everywhere: to be consulted and listened to, engaged, contribute to and to be part of solutions. "They want opportunities, education, employment and inclusion."

The report "We Believe in Youth" details the most pressing challenges refugee youth face, and their recommendations on how best to address these challenges.

NRC said the report is a road map for action for all those engaged in humanitarian response, including states, international organizations, international and national civil society organizations, donors, and youth groups.

The report identified 10 challenges. These are difficulties obtaining legal recognition and personal documents.

It stressed that refugee youths stress the challenges, complexities, and delays in the processes of obtaining asylum and related legal documents from UNHCR and/or local authorities, and the serious implications of not having them.

The second challenge is the difficulty in accessing quality learning, education, and skills-building opportunities. The report found that young refugees consistently identify the difficulty of obtaining recognition for their existing qualifications as a serious challenge. Accessing quality learning, formal education, and skill-building opportunities are also recurrent problems.

The third is discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and "culture clash". Young refugees note that discrimination, racism, and xenophobia across all regions leaves them feeling isolated and marginalized.

The fourth challenge is few youth employment and livelihood opportunities. It found that refugee youths emphasise they would rather work than depend on humanitarian aid and express frustration at the limited employment and livelihood opportunities available to them.

The fifth challenge is gender inequality, discrimination, exploitation, and violence, including for LGBTI youth. Young refugees highlight concerns about gender inequality and discrimination as challenges in and of themselves, but also as underlying causes of sexual exploitation and gender-based violence (SGBV). This includes domestic violence, child and forced marriage, sexual assault, and rape.

Poor access to youth-sensitive healthcare, including psychosocial support if the sixth challenge with refugee youths highlighting a lack of access to quality health care as a major concern, and particularly note the need for youth-sensitive sexual and reproductive health care and psychosocial support.

The report said lack of safety, security, and freedom of movement is another challenge with refugee youths expressing concern about safety, security, and freedom of movement linked to xenophobia and their difficulty obtaining documents. In some locations, they also highlight police harassment as well as arrest and detention.

Challenges for unaccompanied youth is another point noted by the report which states that refugees stress the specific protections and practical challenges for unaccompanied youth, including the difficult transition and a lack of preparation for those who turn 18, thus “age out”, and are no longer afforded additional protection and support, but often still need guidance and assistance as well as access to rights and protection.

The ninth challenge is lack of opportunities to participate, be engaged, or access decision makers. It says youth identify a lack of empowerment and engagement opportunities as factors that limit youth involvement in decision making. They have few opportunities to analyse issues, devise solutions, share their ideas with decision makers, and be heard.

The tenth challenge is lack of information about asylum, refugee rights, and available services.

"In all of the consultations, young refugees have highlighted challenges related to the lack of relevant, honest, and transparent information about the asylum process, refugee rights, available services, and the society and culture of their country of asylum," the report said.
-0- PANA MA 10Aug2018

10 august 2018 10:26:58

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