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Sharjah conference to discuss ways to protect refugee kids   

Khaleej Times - 20 August, 2014

It aims to put measures in place to ensure children and refugees in the Middle East and North Africa are protected from the danger of all forms of exploitation and violence.

Sharjah will host the first ‘Investing in the Future’ conference on October 15-16, which will discuss ways of protecting refugee children and adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The event will be organised by the Sharjah government in coordination the UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of Shaikh Sultan.

The conference is being organised in response to the increasing number of refugees in war-torn countries in the region by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in collaboration with The Big Heart. Over 300 leaders, government officials and regional and international experts involved in refugee affairs and child protection in war-torn areas are expected to take part.

It aims to put measures in place to ensure children and refugees in the Middle East and North Africa are protected from the danger of all forms of exploitation and violence. It further endeavours to provide comprehensive rights for refugee children, particularly the right to shelter, food, healthcare, psychological treatment and education.

As one of the main objectives of the conference is to provide the youth in the MENA region with a platform of engagement and awareness on child/youth displacement issues, a Youth Forum will be organised in parallel with the main event. The forum will host a number of workshops and sessions, and is expected to be attended by approximately 500 university students, faculty members and academics.

Addressing the media, Shaikha Jawaher said, “The Investing in the Future Conference seeks to make recommendations and adopt steps to protect the rights of refugee children, and to put the necessary measures in place to protect them from exploitation and violence, giving them confidence and hope of a better future.”

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “This conference comes at a crucial time. Children currently constitute more than half of the refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, and the impact of this displacement is serious as interrupted childhoods threaten to become lost futures. As such, the aim of this event is not only to determine how we can work together to better protect refugee children and adolescents today, but also how to take collective and concerted action to improve the future for these children.”

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