Youth Forum calls on world leaders to urgently adopt solutions for refugees
Today in New York, member states of the United Nations have adopted at its General Assembly, a declaration on migration and refugees. The European Youth Forum, along with other civil society organisations, has called on United Nations Member States to urgently make commitments and take action in order to make a real difference to lives of refugees, beyond this Summit. Now more than ever, it is critical for Member States to coordinate their efforts through the United Nations to reach a sustainable, fair and human-rights compliant global deal on migration and refugees.
The joint statement and scorecard of civil society laments the uneven progress on delivering on commitments to refugees and whilst today’s “New York Declaration” is seen by some as progress, it is held back by hesitancy, half-heartedness and delay. The around 100 organisations that have signed the statement call for real solutions that make a difference and have direct impact on the lives of millions of refugees.
The Youth Forum calls for a rights-based, age-sensitive implementation of the Declaration, which takes into account the specific situation of young refugees. This is particularly important because young people over the age of 18 are not covered by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but are at a vulnerable stage in their lives, transitioning from childhood to adulthood and therefore may be particularly vulnerable to human rights violations and require specific support.
The detention of children - even if as a last resort and for the shortest time possible – is deplorable and the Youth Forum condemns the reference to this in the Declaration.
The Youth Forum, however, welcomes the reference to youth in the Declaration, particularly in relation to ensuring their access to education. With (in 2013) nearly 1 in 3 international migrants being young people (aged 15-34) it is vital that young people’s fundamental rights are protected. But there is a clear need for more detailed, comprehensive data and therefore the Youth Forum was pleased to note the commitment to improving data collection, disaggregated by age.
The commitment in the Declaration to combatting xenophobia and discrimination is also welcome, but such efforts must address multiple discrimination, in order to account for further aspects beyond migrant or refugee status of a person, which may also come into play, such as age or gender.