Displaced children and youth make up more than half of the people fleeing war or persecution worldwide. In recent years, a larger number of them have been coming to Europe. Among them many unaccompanied minors. Sadly, we have too often witnessed European leaders failing to support these newcomers to Europe. The role of youth organisations to welcome and provide support to young refugees and displaced youth has therefore never been more crucial.
Across Europe, tremendous efforts have been invested by youth organisations to ensure that displaced youth feel included in host communities and have the means to shape their own future. However, while youth organisations may have stepped up where leaders failed, they cannot be expected to continue this work without support. To help ensure that these vital youth-led projects have the resources to continue, the European Youth Forum launched the European Youth Initiative Fund (EYIF),financially supported by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The EYIF implements projects run with the meaningful involvement of young refugees and asylum-seekers.
Over the last several weeks, ten different activities in ten different countries kicked off to enable young refugees to work with local youth towards a better future. From Cyprus to Belgium, Germany to Ireland, and France to Turkey, young people have been hard at work to create a space to exchange and raise awareness of the realities each group is facing. Other projects, in Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy, focused on labour-market inclusion through development of life skills and multicultural learning. These youth-driven volunteer projects aim to create more inclusive local communities that provide a welcoming environment for displaced youth as they seek to rebuild their lives in a foreign country, often after traumatic experiences of war and flight. The project builds on the global Youth Initiative Fund piloted by UNHCR in 2013, as well as the global refugee youth consultations carried out in 2015-16.
Follow #EuropeanYouthInitiative and our social media channels in the next weeks and discover all the exciting projects!