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Sharjah Conference on Refugee Children

Sharjah Conference on Refugee Children

Hundreds of people from around the world gathered on 15 - 16 October 2014 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for a landmark conference on the protection of millions of refugee children and teenagers in the region.

“Investing in The Future: Protecting Refugee Children” was co-hosted by UNHCR and The Big Heart campaign under the patronage of Sharjah's ruler, Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi.

The conference, held at the Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre, brought together government officials, representatives of international organizations, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, academics, the media, child protection experts, refugees and young people from the United Arab Emirates. Participants examined the protection of refugee children and young people, exploring concrete ways to strengthen protection systems.

This important gathering highlighted the need to strengthen existing partnerships between governments, civil society and international and regional agencies and to develop new ones. Participants were encouraged to share good practices, lessons learned and innovative approaches to addressing the protection risks and vulnerabilities of refugee children and young people.

Themes discussed included sexual and gender-based violence; children affected by armed conflict; birth registration and legal documentation; protecting children through education; public-private partnerships for protection; media and protection; and life skills and livelihoods.

There was also a special side event, gathering young people from the United Arab Emirates and featuring workshops and interactive exhibits. They learned about the dynamics and challenges of forced displacement and how humanitarian aid workers protect refugee children from abuse, violence and exploitation. One of the main outcomes of the conference was a set of principles related to the protection of refugee children in the region.