Apajok Biar on UNHCR Global Refugee Youth Consultations
A year on from the Global Youth Refugee Consultations, NSW’s Apajok Biar returned to the UNHCR NGO Consultations in Geneva in June – representing and sharing the ideas, issues and experiences of young people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds living in Australia.
“It feels so, so surreal, I have always wanted to advocate at an international platform,” said Apajok, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and arrived in Australia with her family as a curious two year old. “However, I never believed I would be able to do it…until now. I am so happy.”
At the Opening Plenary of the consultations she asked High Commissioner Filippo Grandi about how young people would be recognised in the Global Compact.
She gave a presentation following up on the Global Refugee Youth Consultations, speaking about why meaningfully engaging young people remains essential for prevention, response and future recovery, especially in the context of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Global Compact for refugees.
She recommended that any youth engagement should incorporate co-design.
“To be able to genuinely listen to the youth: not to be tokenistic, but actually listen to them, and have them be an active part…not only in the planning, but the implementing of projects involving future youth,” she said.
“I also ask you to support their ideas. They might be a bit different and more creative, but definitely support them and encourage them.
“The reason it is important for refugee youth to be included in the CRFF and the Global Compact is because our needs are complex, we need to be recognised…we can’t just be moulded in with the adults and children. We have skills that we can help you with, and we are willing to assist you.