Investing in the Future: Protecting Refugee Children in the Middle East and North Africa, the first regional conference dedicated to the protection of refugee children and adolescents, opened 15 October under the patronage and presence of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
The two-day conference was hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) in partnership with The Big Heart at the invitation of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children.
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, inaugurated the conference with a powerful opening address, in which he said: “This is not the first time of organising conferences highlighting the hardship and challenges faced by refugees who have abandoned their homes in a bid to escape being killed in armed wars of groups who are really forgetting and not abiding by all the Islamic morals and teachings and legislations. We have to really work hard to protect and support the innocent refugee children while offering them all kinds of support in education, health and rehabilitate them to become better members of the society.”
Next, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan took the podium for a keynote address in which she emphasized that the refugee plight is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times. She remarked, “The year 2014 has witnessed the largest human displacement; one disaster after another around the world have displaced millions of people. The number of people who left their homes exceeded fifty million for the first time since World War II, and Syria is the most affected.”
António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then delivered a speech calling attention to the fact that, “Here in the Arab world, every single minute, another child is forced to flee his or her country.” He urged, “The generosity of Syria’s neighbours must be matched by much stronger international support, to allow them to address the escalating demands placed on national services and infrastructures.”
Lastly, short film highlighting the daily challenges being faced by refugee children voiced by Angelina Jolie.