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”. Many youth representatives traveled from around the world to the consultations to participate.

The third and final day of the consultations in Geneva began with a dialogue with George Okoth-Obbo, Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, moderated by Joseph Munyambanza, a Youth Representative with COBURWAS, Uganda.

Applause marked the morning plenary on “Youth responses: from opportunities to solutions.” Sarah Yahwa and Simon Marot Toulong, two youth refugees, took to the podium to give testimony to how young people can, and have, actively worked with their communities to identify solutions to displacement. With Mark Streng of Mercy Corps.

The first thematic session of the day was “Life-long learning: facilitating transitions from school to workplace”, with Joseph Munyambanza (Youth Representative, COBURWAS Uganda), Foni Joyce Vuni (Global Refugee Youth Consultations, Youth Advisory Committee Member), Patrick Mukendi Bituta (Jesuit Refugee Service, Malawi) and Simon Marot Toulong (Youth Representative, Uganda).

The panel on “Youth employment and entrepreneurship” asked how can refugee youth become self-reliant through wage-employment and entrepreneurship? With Paul Newnham (World Vision International, USA), Ziad Ayoubi (Head of the Livelihoods Unit, UNHCR), Graham Doxey (Knod Foundation, USA), Marina Lopez-Anselme (RET International, Switzerland) and Henry Ohanga (Octopizzo Foundation, Kenya).

The panel on “Youth and integration: building bridges and communities” discussed youth perspectives on integration, with Esther Cajou (stateless youth from the Dominican Republic), Frankelly Martinez (Christian Aid, Dominican Republic) and Sarah Yahya (Youth Representative, Australia). Moderated by Dor Achiek (Youth Representative, Australia) and Ghestimani Paschalidis (Settlement Services International, Australia).

Following was a lunch-time Q&A on Resettlement with UNHCR’s Resettlement Service, a session on Innovation, followed by the World Humanitarian Summit follow-up.

The 2016 Consultations came to a close with the Closing Plenary with UNHCR’s Daniel Endres and ICVA’s Nan Buzard, and a discussion with the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements. Closing words from our Rapporteur Musarait Kashmiri, and of course, from the youth. Maria Alesia (Youth Representative, Uganda) and Arif Hazara (Youth Representative, Australia) gave the final speeches, before the youth rushed the podium to sing farewell.