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ARDD marks World Refugee Day, launches study on Palestine refugee youth in region

By JT - Jun 23,2020 - Last updated at Jun 23,2020

AMMAN — As part of its “Voices and Future of Refugee Youth from and in the Arab World” week on the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) hosted a special dialogue addressing the conditions of refugees, including persons with disabilities (PWD), in the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an ARDD statement shared with The Jordan Times, the dialogue, held on June 16, was an ARDD contribution to programmes that shed light on the conditions of refugees in the region, with the aim of making the voices of the most marginalised groups among refugees more clearly heard.

The dialogue, part of ARDD’s Regional Dialogue Sessions, hosted speakers including Senior Policy Adviser to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for the Middle East and North Africa Shaden Khallaf, immigration expert and professor at the American University in Cairo Amira Mohamed, Secretary General of Jordan’s Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Muhannad Al Azzeh and President of the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union Silvana Lakkis. 

The speakers stressed the importance of institutionalising all-encompassing social protection and ensuring that refugees, including those with disabilities, are guaranteed their rights and are included in the decision-making process, particularly concerning issues pertaining to their own futures.

On World Refugee Day, ARDD launched its new study titled “Voices of Palestinian Refugee Youth Across the Near East: Socio-Political Participation and Aspirations”, which sheds light on Palestinian refugees by focusing on youth perspectives.

According to the statement, the study focuses on youth who are or aim to be politically and socially active, primarily from camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territories and Syria. 

Involving over 100 young Palestinians of both genders (most with current or past experience in social programmes or volunteer activities), the study attempted to capture the voices of these young people on issues of importance, including their social and political status within their communities, the larger Palestinian “polity” and the host society at large, their political consciousness as Palestinians and as young refugees and how these factors intersect with and impact their aspirations, the statement said. 

The study identified a trend showing an “organic connection” between individual aspirations and collective issues concerning the future of Palestine and the Palestinian people at large. 

“As with past generations, youth remain vocal advocates of the right of return, which they describe as existential, sacred and immutable,” the statement noted. 

Meanwhile, they believe that pending a settlement of the Palestinian refugee question, UNRWA’s mandate should be preserved and its activities enhanced.

Pending their return to Palestine, the youth asked for overall empowerment through capacity building, good education, access to decent jobs and “political space”, the statement read. 

ARDD also took part in a dialogue session on Sunday with representatives of local and international actors and partners, representatives of the Palestinian Affairs Department and the Ministry of Youth, local civil society organisations and relevant government agencies in Jordan, during which the study’s findings and recommendations were highlighted. 

At the end of the meeting, the speakers unanimously agreed on the importance of creating a participatory mechanism that includes all the parties concerned and working to integrate refugee youth into host societies.

On Sunday, ARDD also held an interactive dialogue as part of #AlNahdaYouth sessions, titled “Refugee Youth Voices: Challenges and Aspirations”, whose speakers represented Syrian, Somali and Palestinian refugee communities in different regions in Jordan. 

The session offered an insight into the intricacies of refugee experiences and revealed common aspirations and priorities youth have for the future, according to the statement.


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