The global population has crossed 7 billion and children are amongst its largest yet most vulnerable stakeholders. Exploitation of young people affected by violence and strife has reached alarming proportions globally and policy makers need to take urgent stock of the situation and address this burgeoning humanitarian crisis before its too late.

According to some reports , there are in excess of 51 million refugees worldwide , the highest since World War II . A large percentage of this are children who face a bleak future of depravation, poverty and even early death. To address these issues a 2-day conference titled “Investing In the Future” was held on the 15th and 16th of October in Sharjah , United Arab Emirates organized by UNHCR in partnership with The Big Heart under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi , the Ruler of Sharjah.

Inaugurating the conference, HH Shaikh Qasimi requested for the implementation of urgent strategies to help refugee children, especially the thousands being displaced daily due to the ongoing Syrian conflict. Queen Rania of Jordan echoed these sentiments, reiterating the need for an urgent political solution and the immediate disbursement of aid for the 1.8 million refugee children, so as to protect them from sexual exploitation, child labour and illiteracy.

The magnitude of this humanitarian crisis can be assessed from the fact that every 30 seconds, 35 children around the world become refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees , Mr Antonio Guterres , stated that all countries need to share this burden and especially requested Syria’s neighbors to open their borders to help the refugees.

The conference had several forums which actively involved youth panelists from the region as well locally. The outcome echoed by all of them called for protection of children from exploitation and the urgent need for providing education without any kind of gender bias. It was reinforced that education was the key towards empowerment of the refugee children. The assembled youth felt that the refugee crisis needs a humane solution and must be addressed without any pre-conditions.

The Future Generations deserve a better life and its time that all stakeholders rise above their petty differences and provide a lasting solution that is sustainable and humane. Human life , especially those of children, cannot be trifled with and there must be tangible actions to “Invest in the Future”.


About the Author

Kehkashan Basu is a 14 year old environmental and social activist living in Dubai, UAE whose sole objective is to involve and mobilise children and youth in the movement for a sustainable and green future. Born on 5th June which is also World Environment Day, she feels that it was pre-ordained that she should grow up to be an eco-warrior. Spreading the message of peace and sustainability has been her passion since she was only 8 years old and she has worked tirelessly to enlist the support of children and youth across geographical boundaries. Empowering young people is her passion and she spends a lot of time personally training and guiding many young people to conduct “on the ground” campaigns on various sustainability issues.


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