Webster Geneva Student Aya Abdullah Speaks At Opening Plenary of the Global Refugee Forum

Dec. 20, 2019

Webster Geneva Student Aya Abdullah Speaks At Opening Plenary of the Global Refugee Forum
Webster University Geneva student Aya Abdullah at the Global Refugee Forum

Webster University GenevaAya Abdullah was a speaker at the opening plenary of the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

This event was the most important high-level political event on refugees ever taken place; and one year after the creation of the Global Compound for action on refugees. Abdullah, who is member of the Global Youth Advisory Council, spoke immediately after seven heads of state, including the presidents of Switzerland and Turkey. 

Abdullah's speech is may be heard at the 02:05:00 mark in this video: webtv.un.org/opening-plenary-global-refugee-forum.

 Abdullah spoke about her experience as a refugee. Abdullah fled Iraq to Syria with her family at the age of 14, and then again in 2011 to Turkey due to the war in Syria. Abdullah and her family eventually resettled to Switzerland in 2017 where they joined her father, who crossed the Mediterranean by boat.

Because of this experience, Abdullah would later join the Global Youth Advisory Council (GYAC). The GYAC is a consultative group on issues relating to the protection and development of the young people that the  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works with and for globally, including those who are refugees, internally displaced and stateless.

The GYAC represents the voices of young people to ensure that they are heard, considered and incorporated into the work of UNHCR at national, regional and global levels. The GYAC has continued its engagement in the drafting process of the global compact on refugees by conducting community consultations in 10 countries with over 250 young refugees to gather feedback on the Global Compact on Refugees from community actors.

Abdullah mentioned that she is one of the 3 percent of refugees that had the privilege of having access to higher education, and thanked Webster University for that. Abdullah went on in saying that she is studying International Relations and Media Communications at Webster University in Geneva.

Global Refugee Forum

The Global Refugee Forum is a high-level meeting in Geneva of governments, international financial organizations, business leaders, humanitarian and development actors, refugees, and civil society representatives have secured wide-ranging and substantial commitments of support for refugees and the communities they live in, notably with important pledges of new long-term support for inclusion.

The Forum has had six main areas of focus: Education, work, energy and infrastructure, shared responsibility, protection, and solutions like resettlement. Most pledges have been made in the areas of protection and education, the former involving in many cases changes to legal and policy environments to promote inclusion, and the latter creating places potentially for many more refugee children to go to school and improve their life prospects. Worldwide, over 70 million people are displaced by war, conflict, and persecution. More than 25 million of them are refugees, having fled across international borders and unable to return to their homes.

Further, pledges are expected in the near future and indicators to assess success, for example in jobs created, school places and reduction of poverty levels, have been established to track progress. A stock-taking meeting will occur in two years.

The Forum is a key element of the new Global Compact on Refugees that was affirmed by UN member states in New York in December 2018. Under the Compact, Global Refugee Forums take place every four years; the next is scheduled for late 2023.

Click here for a complete list of pledges.

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