UNHCR MUN Refugee Challenge inspires Kazakhstan youth to design solutions for refugee problems

UNHCR Kazakhstan makes presentation about UNHCR work for school students

Kazakhstan school students discussed impact of climate change on displacement during the Model United Nations (MUN) Refugee Challenge organized by Haileybury Astana School with the support from UNHCR office in Kazakhstan as part of three-day HASMUN Conference, an educational simulation of a United Nations conference, that took place on 28 February – 1 March 2020 in Nur-Sultan.

Over 30 participants from different cities of Kazakhstan signed up for MUN Refugee Challenge to discuss ways of supporting refugees affected by the climate change. Arkadiy Leybovskiy, UNHCR Protection Officer for Central Asia, said at the opening of HASMUN conference: “The goal of MUN Refugee Challenge is to encourage students to find solutions for refugee problems. It is an opportunity for you to move from simulation to reality.”

HASMUN Conference was organized by students of Haileybury Astana school who were inspired by impact of other MUN activities. “We participated in MUN events organized by other schools in other countries and got invaluable experience. And we felt it is our responsibility to share this experience with others. We realized it is our responsibility to be the change we want to see,” said Zhaniya Murzalina, Haileybury Astana student and representative of HASMUN Executive Committee.

While preparing HASMUN event, organizers found information about the UNHCR Refugee Challenge and decided to include it in the conference program as an opportunity for delegates to play a role in finding solutions for the refugee crisis. One of the MUN Refugee Challenge participants Alfais Adilkhan, 16-year-old student, got interested in the refugee issue, because nowadays it is a pressing concern: “The Refugee Challenge helps me think more broadly about the topic and apply it to real life right now, because this challenge is actually happening at this moment, and I would love to contribute to solving it.”

Besides the MUN Refugee Challenge, the program of HASMUN conference included interactive workshops conducted by UNHCR for primary and secondary school students. During workshops participants learnt more about refugees, what problems refugees face and how UNHCR helps to solve them.

HASMUN conference is one of Model UN activities for those interested in learning more about how the UN operates. Hundreds of thousands of students worldwide take part every year in Model UN at all educational levels.

The MUN Refugee Challenge by UNHCR is an opportunity for MUN delegates to debate the major issues related to forced displacement. Any MUN organized in 2020 can take up the Refugee Challenge. The competition is open to MUNs at university and high-school level.