This is the first of a three part series, covering the three days of consultation. See day one here and day three here

NGOs from around the world met in Geneva Wednesday, 15 June, for the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs. These annual consultations allow NGOs to raise issues, network, and to exchange views with UNHCR. The theme of this year’s consultations was “Youth: The Future is now”.

Day two began with a dialogue with the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk, moderated by youth representative Rez Gardi from New Zealand. At 9 a.m., the panel on “Youth: From vulnerability to resilience” began. Ibrahim Vurgun Kavlak (Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants, Turkey) spoke of the challenges faced by young refugees in Turkey, especially in accessing education and in the labor market. Other speakers were Jackie, a youth representative from Zambia, and Sarah Costa, of the Women’s Refugee Commission, USA.

The first of the thematic session was “Where we live: Safe asylum space for youth”, which the International Detention Coalition coordinated in partnership with UNHCR. The session explored the main challenges that youth face in accessing fair and effective asylum procedures, and enjoying appropriate community-based protection and reception. The first panel focused on the detention of migrant youth, with Olga Tseitlina (Memorial Human Rights Centre, Russia), Dino Satria (Church World Service, Indonesia) and Ramon Marquez (La 72 Hogar Refugio para Personas Migrantes, Mexico), moderated by Vanessa Martinez (International Detention Coalition Americas).

The afternoon panel addressed challenges faced by youth both during and after the Refugee Status Determination procedures. Speakers were Jill Alpes (Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance, UK), Brian Barbour (Japan Association for Refugees, Japan), and Jorge Rios (Sin Fronteras, Mexico), moderated by Ann Boonridrerthaikul (Asylum Access, Thailand).

The panel on the need to end sexual and gender-based violence, “Youth addressing SGBV – challenges and opportunities” with Lucy Kiama (HIAS, Kenya), Ozge Burak (Women’s Solidarity Foundation, Turkey), Rukiia Hassa (Danish Refugee Council, Kenya), Victor Ochen (African Youth Initiative Network, Uganda), and Bushra Abbas Sabra Almahamah (Youth Representative, Jordan).

The panel on “Building resilience: programing strength for the future” was next. A lively discussion on resilience and about creating environments that help people thrive, with Matt Streng (Mercy Corps), Maalini Ramalo (Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas, Malaysia), Annie Sovick (Center for Victims of Torture), Kaja Tshitende (Youth Representative, Zimbabwe), Pieter Ventevogel (Senior Mental Health Officer, UNHCR), Mercy Akuot (Youth Representative, Kenya), Arash Bordbar (Youth Representative, Australia), Elvis Elwabanga Dubois (youth Representative, Uganda), and Sarah Yahya (Youth Representative, Australia). DSC_0221

The first session was an interactive panel on Statelessess with Sanoj Raan (Statelessness Network Asia Pacific, India) and Jyothi Kanics (European Network on Statelessness, UK).

The second session was on “The State of Partnership”, with Mark Hetfield (HIAS, USA), Henrik Malmquist (Hear, Investigation Service, UNHCR) and Fatima Sherif-Nor (Hear, Implementing Partnership Management Service, UNHCR).

A great session on “Youth participation: Freeing and supporting potential” followed, with Jacqueline Phiri (Youth Representative, Zambia), Arif Hazara (Youth Representative, Australia), Mohammad Al Amoush (Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre), and Jordan Nadine Liddy (Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network [MYAN], Australia).

The session on Youth Data explored the power of technology, notably social media, among refugee youth living in urban settings, with Kimberly Roberson (UNHCR), Marie Gillespie (The Open University), Elvis Elwabanga Dubois (Youth Representative, Uganda), Rose Foran (Internews, UK), and Rebecca Petra (Translators without Borders, USA).

Following was a panel on youth as humanitarian actors: a diverse, all-youth panel that explored the role and contribution of youth in humanitarian response.

Next was the panel “Act your age: Exploring the challenges for youth in adult roles”, made up of speakers who had taken adult responsibilities in their youth or who work with young people. This session looked at the adult roles that youth are sometimes forced to assume, with Laura Elizabeth Valencia Restrepo (youth representative from Ecuador), Zhirair Chichian (a stateless youth from Georgia), Kate Ofwono (filmmaker and former refugee from Uganda) and Maher Qubbaj (CARE, Jordan).

On sexual and reproductive health, the panel on “Being well and well-being – The health of the community” highlighted the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth in refugee settings and explored the barriers they face to accessing services that effectively meet those needs.

This is the first of a three part series, covering the three days of consultation. See day one here and day three here