The U.S. Refugee Consultations took place February 21-22 in Washington, DC. This event was part of the Global Refugee Youth Consultations which are occurring all over the globe. These face-to-face consultations will be complemented by a virtual global dialogue where refugee youth will have the opportunity to interact and share their thoughts and ideas on topics of their choice. Youth from each consultation will be selected to participate in the 2016 UNHCR NGO Consultations in Geneva, the overarching theme of which will be Youth and Adolescents. The selected youth will participate in panels and highlighted youth issues in different sessions. They will also lead a one-day workshop that will present the findings from their respective consultation to other stakeholders, including UN organizations, international and other NGOs, and government representatives.
The Vulnerable Minors Working Group of Refugee Council USA, at the request of the UNHCR and Women’s Refugee Commission in Geneva, hosted the U.S. Consultation.
Prior to convening in Washington, DC for the event, the 25 refugee and asylum-seeking youth from 13 different countries organized and executed pre-consultation activities with local refugee and other migrating youth to elicit feedback on their experiences before, during, and after migration. The overarching themes highlighted across the youth-led pre-consultation activities were: 1)educational barriers, 2) struggles with cultural adjustment, 3) language barriers, and 4) discrimination/bullying. These collective findings served as a springboard for the discussions and activities of the two-and-a-half-day Consultation in Washington, DC. In a highly youth-driven process, consultation participants identified the root causes, impacts, and possible solutions for each of these challenges.
On the final day, a Stakeholder Briefing was held featuring youth nominated by their peers to share these key findings and offer insights on:
- the most pressing needs of children in forced migration and refugee contexts;
- recommendations for the United States and the global community to strengthen the child protection framework;
- proposed action plans for their local communities;
BRYCS is delighted to continue working with these amazing youth leaders on future projects. Through firsthand accounts from youth, we will better understand their needs and the issues affecting their experiences while working together to find solutions for increasing their protection and capacity for long-term integration.