UNHCR partners with UNFPA Ghana on its flagship Young Leaders (YoLe) Fellowship Program

Young people enrolled on the second cohort of YoLe

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Ghana has partnered with the UNFPA Country Office on a youth mentorship and skills development program known as the Young Leaders Fellowship Programme (YoLe).

The UN Secretary-General has underscored the importance of youth in helping lead change in all areas including human rights, social justice and climate action amongst others. In his new year message where the Secretary-General announced the launch of the Decade of Action for the SDGs, which is the global blueprint for a fair globalization, Mr. Antonio Guterres called on young people all over the world to keep speaking out, to think big, to push boundaries and to keep up the pressure.

Country Representative for UNHCR, Ms. Esther Kiragu says the YoLe Fellowship is an excellent platform to groom the youth to be able to take up the mantle of leadership. She says UNHCR Ghana is proud to be associated with the fellowship program, which is helping the youth in general, including refugees to realize their potential. “UNHCR embraces this project as it is in line with the Global Compact for Refugees which underscores the need for the socio-economic inclusion of refugees in programs implementing sustainable developments initiatives” Ms. Kiragu indicated

Four young refugees living in Ghana have been placed into the fellowship program, after successfully making it through the competitive selection process. 

Rachel Obidieh, a refugee living in Ghana who completed University of Ghana last year is enlisted on the program.

I feel very privileged to be a part of this because the training sessions we’re having here, we never had that kind of training in school.

Moreover, I have no professional experience so this program is going to offer me that experience and exposure which will prepare me for the job market” an excited Rachel noted.

For Julius Mortsi, also a refugee on the Fellowship Program, it is a great opportunity to gain experience and polish his skills as he works towards his goal of becoming a Nurse working with Doctors without Borders.

UNFPA Country Representative Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, at the official inauguration ceremony for the second cohort, noted that the Programme had made a significant impact. He cited the first cohort, most of whom have gained work opportunities and school placements in some prestigious institutions as great examples. He was hopeful the second cohort will even make a bigger impact. Mr. Ojuolape commended Ecobank Ghana and the United Bank for Africa who have pledged continuous support the support of the initiative.

UNFPA Country Representative, Niyi Ojuolape with refugee youth enrolled on the YoLe Program

UN Resident Coordinator a.i, Ms. Sylvia Lopez-Ekra said the YoLe Fellowship Programme is a testament to the UN’s commitment to invest massively in the youth in every possible way. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Embrace it, give it your all. We want you to be a proud face of the UN in Ghana” was Ms. Lopez-Ekra’s words of advice to the youth.


Graduate unemployment has been a major issue for many years. For most young people, finding jobs after school is a challenge. Employers are looking for experience which many graduates lack. Some employers often say there is disconnect between what is taught in the classroom and what happens in the field of work.

It is to help bridge this gap that the UNFPA Country office in Ghana took the initiative to start the YoLe, an innovative mentorship and skills development program for young people to help them develop practical skills on the job. The program bridges the gap between school-book learning and real time office work

Project Manager for the YoLe Program, Michael Ige, indicated that the key objective of the Fellowship Program is to hone the skills of the young people in leadership and development and make them employable as the job market has become highly competitive. “We try to get them the necessary skill set required for the job while helping them to think outside the box and think in the line of entrepreneurship as well” he noted.

In all, 21 young people from different parts of the country are in the second cohort of the 12-month program which took off in January this year. Training areas being covered include Leadership, CV Writing, Public Speaking, Team Building exercise, Information Technology (including coding and website development), Mental Health, Social Media and Branding amongst others.