Global | DPI
To mark one year since the outbreak of the Rohingya refugee crisis, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, visited the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh to highlight the need for safe spaces for youth, in particular, for young refugees who lack access to basic human rights.
Ms. Wickramanayake first visited the Kutupalong Camp, the largest and most densely populated refugee camp on our planet, to meet with a group of young refugees who work as Community Outreach Volunteers supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Despite the challenges these young refugees face, they were eager to make positive contributions to their community and solve local issues, such as shelter repairs or tree planting.
This was followed by a meeting organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with a group of refugees who receive life planning skills training implemented by local NGOs. During this event, the Youth Envoy instigated a drawing competition in which the young refugees drew their favourite safe space, and presented awards to the art winners during the heartwarming ceremony.
Supported by UNICEF, the Envoy on Youth next visited an all-girls adolescents’ club, which gathered young women from the camp as well as the host community. In the club, she watched a role play about child marriage and engaged in a candid discussion about the gender-specific challenges these young women experience in their day-to-day lives.
Ms. Wickramanayake then met with the Senior Coordinator of the Rohingya refugee response, Heads of UN Sub-Offices, and members of the Compact of Young People in Humanitarian Action, to discuss how humanitarian partners can better address the unique priorities and rights of young people - especially the need for education and skills building training.
Too often, young people are an overlooked resource in humanitarian assistance, which was a message the Youth Envoy highlighted on World Humanitarian Day.
”Young refugees continue to be marginalized. In Cox’s Bazar, only 2000 out of 117,000 young people between 15-17 years have access to education or life skills training,” says Wichramanyake.