UNRWA partners with UNICEF, UNFPA and ITC to advocate for youth issues in the MENA region

05 February 2016
UNRWA engages with young people on ways in which they can play an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, together with UNICEF, UNFPA and the International Trade Centre (ITC), as part of the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York on 1 and 2 February 2016. © 2016 UNRWA Photo by Johanna Zoellner

At the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York this week, Hashem Abushama, a 21-year-old Palestine refugee student, was invited to share his experiences growing up in Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the West Bank during a breakout session on ‘Key Regional Priorities for Youth Development in the Middle East and North Africa’. Together with the other panelists, including representatives from UNRWA, UNICEF, UNFPA and ITC, Hashem discussed both the challenges and opportunities for youth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The interactive panel discussion allowed youth representatives, ministers, senior parliamentary members, civil society partners, youth groups and international organizations to voice their opinions, share ideas, and reflect together on specific issues of relevance to youth in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 and will guide development efforts over the next 15 years.

The session highlighted five key recommendations:

  1. Using a positive development approach where young people are dealt with as ‘resources’ and not ‘problems’;
  2. Requesting greater access to quality education, health services in formation, livelihoods, and recreational and volunteer opportunities for greater empowerment, especially for girls, refugee youth (including Palestine refugees), and the most disadvantaged;
  3. Strengthening mechanisms for the systematic civic engagement of young people;
  4. Emphasizing the need for employment and entrepreneurship in the MENA region by creating opportunities for development, personal realization and improved self-esteem; and
  5. Investing in programmes to promote adolescent and youth health. 

These recommendations were shared with the international community indicating that the time is now for young people to get behind global efforts to ensure sustainable development for all, including Palestine refugee youth.

Now in its fifth year, the ECOSOC Youth Forum brings together young leaders from around the world to the UN Headquarters in New York. It is a platform for youth to engage in dialogue with Member States and other stakeholders and to contribute to policy formulation on global economic, social and environmental issues.

Read more about the Youth forum.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall,  projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 96.5 million. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724