An FYI to those interested in some of the global issues that the UN is trying to address….
The Model UN/NGO Club met with the UNHCR yesterday for a round table discussion regarding the many different refugee crises over the last 60 years and the effect they have had on the countries hosting them.
The panelist yesterday was Firas Kayal, Senior Policy Advisor at the UNHCR. He began with the situation in Mayanmar, and the attempted genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.
Kayal asserted that the conflict in Myanmar is the worst refugee crisis in over 60 years. Over 2 million people have fled since August, with over 70 percent of them being women and children. Kayal also stressed how the perception of who is hosting the refugees is quite misleading. Approximately 85 percent of refugees are hosted by neighboring countries, which more times than not, are in poor to middle income regions. Only 15 percent are actually hosted by Europe and the West.
One of the questions posed to Kayal was about humanitarian aid given to refugees and development issues caused in the hosting countries by taking them in. He assured us that the UNHCR is aware of this problem; that humanitarian assistance and development have now become something that goes hand-in-hand. They are trying to use a community-based approach to make sure that neither refugees nor nationals are neglected.
In the very little time we had with Mr. Kayal yesterday, he gave us some insight into how the UNHCR is trying to help correct these devastating situations that caused so many people to flee their own land.
I’d like to (in)formally introduce the new board members of the MUN/NGO Club. Let’s give each of them a warm welcome. I’ve listed them below (bios to follow):
President: Aljenis R. Mora
Vice President: Yangchen Dolma
Treasurer: Sushmita Lamsal
Secretary: Fred Machado
Tomorrow the UNHCR will be discussing the situation in Myanmar.
Half a million Rohingya refugees have fled from violence in Myanmar. The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The vast majority of Rohingya refugees reaching Bangladesh are women and children, including newborn babies. Many others are elderly people requiring additional aid and protection. They have nothing and need everything. This is where the UN and NGOs can get involved to help.
At the NGO Orientation today we heard from many different UN bodies and the NGOs that work with them.
The main themes were “Working Together” and “Making a Difference”. The two go hand-in-hand; you can’t make a difference if you don’t work together, especially in the world we live in today.
With the SDGs 2030 agenda in full swing each of us need to work together if we want to meet these goals. The panelists reminded us that every government in the world has agreed to try and help meet these goals, and we need to speak up when we don’t see that happening.
We heard from Claudia Díaz from the Human Rights Council, Dalita Balassanian from the UNDP and the different NGOs that work with them.
NGO rep Scott Carlin from Long Island University focused on climate change. He stated that “we’re far behind meeting our goals” and “we don’t have enough funding, and 2030 is right around the corner.”
Discussing solutions was also discussed. Getting involved in NGO committees, taking to social media (in a positive way), making ECOSOC aware of changes that need to be made, and being involved with DPI are just some of the avenues we can take in “working together to make a difference.”
Last week the DPINGO held a briefing on YOUnited, a youth led discussion on how to affect change through policy and action.
Topics addressed were how the youth are marginalized in the decision-making process of policy change, but need to play a critical roll in it. The average age of parliamentarians is 53-years old, with only 5% under the age of 35. This can easily be seen as a form of age discrimination.
Giving the advice on how to fight youth discrimination, Omar Almutawa, Youth Representative of the UAE stated, “Have a thick skin, and reply with action.” Getting involved and staying involved is the key.
With the 17 SDGs that the UN has put forth, we are all responsible for meeting them, and that includes the youth. Without the having the youth as an intricate part of meeting the SDGs, they will be very difficult to achieve.
My name is Derrek Schwartz and I am the new representative at the United Nations for the CCNY NGO. I am currently attending open session meetings on a regular basis at the UN to actively work with other NGO representatives and ambassadors focusing on sustainable development from different parts of the world.
As Africa Week at the UN came to a close last week, I attended two important and informative meetings. The first, the Africa Sustainable Development Report, and the second, hosted by the African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which focused on Regional and economic integration in Africa.
Both meetings touched on income inequality trends and human development in Africa, but the second, more extensive meeting focused primarily on the future of Africa and that investing in the youth is the key to sustainable development in the regions. They spoke about how the majority of the countries in Africa live on less than a dollar per day, well below the global poverty line.
The presenters made a call to build infrastructure by helping the youth to receive more education and give the opportunity to form more advanced skillsets within their region. Currently, people are leaving to go where there are opportunities, causing an essential “brain drain.” If nothing is done, the youth, especially young girls find themselves easy prey to terrorist groups.
Gender equality at a young age was also a focus. Giving opportunities to both boys and girls will also give way to more sustained economic growth and help social progress to be formed.
Both meetings were very informative and gave a fresh perspective on the opportunity for success from a global standpoint.