What young people can teach about protecting the rights of young migrants and refugees

70 young leaders from all over the world made their voices heard at the Youth Forum at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit

Juan Pablo Argüello, U-Report On The Move Coordinator
Young leaders take a group photo at the Summit Venue
UNICEF Ecuador

12 February 2020

In January 2020, over 70 young leaders from all over the world met in the Andean city of Quito, Ecuador to discuss youth-specific migration challenges, needs and opportunities. These young leaders have meaningfully engaged in migration-related initiatives in their respective countries, made their voices heard by policy-makers and practitioners at the Youth Forum at the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit in Ecuador. The discussions at the forum covered a range of thematic areas such as the drivers of migration, human trafficking and child detention, regularisation pathways, and economic and social inclusion which impacts the lives of young refugees and migrants

The young leaders called for the strengthening of the political and economic commitment of government and development actors in protecting the rights of young people on the move and in ensuring their integral inclusion in host communities. The forum highlighted primary concerns and identified action-oriented solutions based on their own experiences. 

Young Venezuelan leader María Corina Muskus is the co-founder of Venezolanas Globales, a Facebook Group that promotes participation, sharing of information, and networking of over three thousand Venezuelan women living in 14 cities in different regions of the world. 

Social media has been key for developing these connections, support networks, and sharing essential information from how to access regularisation, employment, and health services, to the cultural nuances of specific destinations.

María Corina from Venezuela
People sitting in the table discussing
UNICEF Ecuador
Young leaders discuss the challenges and opportunities for the social and economic integration of migrants.

A need for reliable and up-to-date information was commonly noted across discussion groups. Leaders from different regions and diverse experiences stressed the need for improving access to information about the rights of refugees and migrants, and the services and protection mechanisms available to them. Among others, participants highlighted how the lack of information on the requirements and procedures to access formal education is limiting school enrollment. 

The Youth Forum recommended the importance of providing multiple mechanisms and opportunities for participation of young populations in migration and other development and humanitarian issues. Frida Romero, a young  Peruvian activist, pointed out that “it is we, the young people, who most benefit or suffer from these policies. We should be given a chance to speak up on how these actions impact our lives, on what our main concerns and priorities are”. This need to enhance youth participation was also echoed by the representative of the UNICEF office in Ecuador. 

Reach out to more youth who are not connected with global processes and who don’t have opportunities to make their voices heard

Joaquín González-Aleman, Representative of UNICEF Ecuador

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Summit provided a nurturing space for the sharing of ideas and experiences and offered fertile ground for introducing and testing the role of innovation in humanitarian and development contexts. During the event, participants were able to voice their concerns and proposals through U-Report, a platform that helps amplify the voices of young people through mobile devices and social media. Young leaders provided feedback to the U-Report On The Move initiative, a digital empowerment programme that connects young refugees and migrants with information that improves their lives, influences decisions and lets them speak out on issues that matter to them. The platform provides access to relevant and accurate information, feedback and complaints mechanisms and real-time monitoring. U-Report On the Move is being deployed and scaled in South America, the Middle East, and North Africa to support the needs of refugee and migrant community, and to strengthen emergency response and advocacy efforts. In 2019, over 170,000 young migrants have been reached through the platform.

For agencies and partners that would like to know more about the project’s implementation in South America, and how they can be involved, please contact Humberto Jaime, Regional Chair of CwC/C4D Group, R4V Platform: hjaime@unicef.org

For queries on U-Report On the Move contact Juan Pablo Arguello Yepez - jarguello@unicef.org 

This project would not be possible without the generous support from UNICEF USA and UNHCR Fund (English and Spanish).