Global Refugee Youth Consultations
The Global Refugee Youth Consultations (GRYC) were launched in July 2015 at the UNHCR-NGO Consultations in Geneva. A joint initiative of UNHCR and the Women’s Refugee Commission, supported by the Youth and Adolescents in Emergencies Advocacy Group (YAE), the GRYC are supported by a Coordinator, Project Officer and Advisory Committee (consisting of national and international NGOs, youth representatives and an independent youth expert).
Refugee youth are often left out of activities and programmes organised by the UN, NGOs and other organisations. Youth have skills, capabilities, aspirations and needs that often go unrecognised and are not understood. There is a need to reach out and hear from them about the challenges they face, their visions and what support they need to shape positive futures. The consultations are providing opportunities for refugee youth to discuss issues that affect them with host country youth and representatives from the United Nations, international NGOs, national NGOs and other organizations working with youth in the country. The process aims to place youth at the centre of decision making processes that affect them and to recognize their potential. The target group for this project are young refugees that fit the United Nations definition of ‘Youth’ which is all boys and girls, young women and young men between the ages of 15-24 years.
The consultations took place between November 2015 and June 2016. They included national level consultations in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa. The ‘National Consultations’ were led by national NGOs from each country with UNHCR and an international NGO partner. Similar consultations were held with refugee youth in North America, Australasia and Europe.
Opportunities to participate in smaller consultations and online were also provided through a designated toolkit and a Facebook platform. The process culminated in a global consultation in Geneva in June 2016 and participation by young people in the 2016 annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations, the overarching theme of which is Youth.
Objectives and design
Underpinning the design of the national consultations are the four core objectives of the GRYC:
To create structured spaces for young refugees to have a voice and engage in participatory dialogue with other youth and relevant stakeholders at local, national, regional and global levels
To improve access for young refugees to local, national, regional and global youth alliances and networks
To foster and support participation, leadership and empowerment opportunities for young refugees
To consolidate and channel the learning from the consultations into the development of guidelines and policy recommendations on youth-inclusive programming, to improve the humanitarian sector understands of, and work with, young refugees
A participatory approach was used throughout. The session plans were developed by the GRYC Coordinator, in consultation with UNHCR and WRC. They were designed through a collaborative and iterative process, including:
An extensive review of literature and other materials relating to consultations with youth, displaced populations and participatory research methods, in order to learn from previous experience and to adapt relevant pre-existing models.2
The active input of a group of young refugees and asylum seekers during a two-day residential workshop in Malta, in October 2015, organised in partnership with UNHCR Malta and a Maltese NGO, Organisation for Friendship and Diversity (OFD). The group consisted of males and females representing the full age range of the global consultations (15-24 year olds), and five countries - Libya, Somalia, Mali, Eritrea and Palestine.
Input into the development of the session plans and the content of the national consultations was also sought from members of the GRYC Advisory Committee - in person with the Regional Leads representing Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America during a two-day meeting in Geneva, and by email and skype with the full GRYC Advisory Committee.3
A full pilot national consultation in Uganda that provided an opportunity to learn from the participants and adapt the approach and session plans accordingly.
Kenya National Consultation
National NGO Partner
World Vision Kenya in partnership with UNHCR Geneva, the Women’s Refugee Commission, UNHCR Kenya, Film Aid, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) hosted the Global Refugee Youth Consultation meeting with 28 refugee youth from Dadaab, Kakuma and urban refugees in Nairobi. This took place in Nairobi at Corat Africa hotel in Karen. Unlike other countries that have hosted the national consultations, Kenya decided to take a consortium approach and to involve a number of humanitarian and non-governmental organizations to collaborate around hosting the consultation.