Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Engaging youth: Palestine refugees in a changing Middle East

March 2012


By Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson

One year after the start of a tumultuous twelve months in the Middle East, where have these momentous events left increasingly marginalised Palestine refugee youth? They will number over 1.5 million by 2020, so what should the international community do to engage this vital constituency for Middle East peace?

According to many predictions, a quarter of these will be unemployed -- which represents both an opportunity and also a risk for the region. But how should those risks be managed and the opportunities embraced?

Conference on Palestine refugee youth

" "We can't wait, we need to take the future in our own hands and to do so working together".

"We need to see the world and the world needs to see us because we are the same as other young people around the world, we have the same concerns, we have the same dreams".

"Even if I live in Gaza, which is a prison, I will continue to love and explain its beauty and the energy and hopes of all the young people around me".

"We don't complain, we can't complain – we need to spark hope and passion about Gaza and its community".

"Freedom will come through education and knowledge, the internet is our window on the world. We need to create curiosity and knowledge about our rights".

I argue that those quotes speak for themselves and we can't fail them. They do not look for excuses. We should not look for excuses either." Speech by Ashton on Palestine Refugees in the Changing Middle East

"Our goal, consistently spelt out over time, is supporting the creation of a Palestinian state that will not need to depend on donor support, will stand in its own right and will exist in peace and security side by side with all its neighbours. As PM Fayyad always tells me and we will talk about it at the AHLC meeting on Wednesday here in Brussels: Palestine should be given the opportunity to compete without help from donors. The talent is there, the will is there, what is needed is the opportunity and the right political decision." Baroness Catherine Ashton

Read about how UNRWA engages youth:

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