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The Missing Bridge between Young Refugees & Countering Extremism

The Missing Bridge between Young Refugees & Countering Extremism

According to the 2015 UNHCR statistical yearbook, our world has the highest levels of displacement ever. This sets off alarm bells to the CVE community and governments for the essential need to move in order to find effective solutions. Unfortunately, the effect of this crisis has started to have negative impacts on international security, economics and relations which are beginning to get out of control. Statistics show that almost 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home, which is almost equal to the population of France. Around 21.3 million are refugees and around 10 million people are counted as stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement, as per UNHCR reports.

Studies show that more than 51% of these displaced people are under 18 and more than 67% are under 30 years old. This could give us a clear conclusion that youth make the vast majority of this group. To analyze the importance of youth refugees in extremism countering, we need to look for the link between conflicted-countries, youth refugees, refugees’ rights and extremism culture. We know that many conflicts result in extremism flourishing, such as ISIS in Syria, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and sectarianism militias in Iraq. These extremists exploit youth refugees to use them in their conflicts and to spread their thoughts among other youth refugees. A quick move is needed to protect these young people.

The old image of refugees being gathered in concentrated camps has changed, as we can see that almost 60% of refugees live in cities and there is a global call for resettlement of more refugees, For example, the U.S government plans to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September 2016. Most of refugees suffer from a lack of services, such as Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Sometimes the issue goes beyond this, which leads to violence, especially toward women and children. An example of that is the Yezidi women; reports estimate the number of Yezidi women being sexually abused by ISIS exceeds 2,000. Other cases of violence against refugees’ children by forcing them to leave schools and work in Pakistan and Sudan were recorded.

Unfortunately, there is not enough cooperation for solving the missing link between countering extremism and youth refugees. Efforts being done by different organizations, mostly considered to be from one side. That is; different donors, programs, educational content and youth engagement. I think that the most important part is the educational content and quality. In order to protect both the current and next generation from extremism, the CVE community, especially youth leaders, should cooperate to create a well-developed educational content and tools in the field of countering extremism in which will be integrated in the general educational materials for refugees. In addition, more workshops for youth refugees on countering extremism should be done by youth leaders. This will have a positive impact by increasing the awareness of protecting youth refugees from extremism. In addition, it will decrease the violence made by some refugees such as the sexual harassment cases recorded in Germany.

Another major issue is the social cohesion and integration of youth refugees in their new communities. The way of looking at the refugee crisis as a negative impact should be changed. That is, we need to look at youth refugees as a powerful source of creative ideas. In addition, we need to listen to youth refugee needs and engage them in CVE work.  We must also deliver their voices to policy makers, benefit from their experiences, and build partnerships with them.

In conclusion, I think that more integration of youth refugees in countering extremism is essential. Youth refugee engagement can be achieved by understanding their concerns and needs, developing their skills, addressing root causes of damaging conflicts and supporting youth refugee leaders. In the end, to have a real impact, more support and cooperation from all sides is needed: economical, political, technical and logistical.