“Some people begin to see refugees as numbers — or even worse, as threats,” says Anja Ingabire, a UN volunteer with UNHCR in Jordan. “Behind each refugee there are personal stories of loss and tragedy. Every story is unique and touches you in a different way. It is the person who makes the story.”
As we sit on our comfortable couches at home and watch TV or read articles about refugees in areas of crisis or conflict, it is easy to become desensitized to the plight of this most vulnerable demographic.
Over the years, communicating effectively on issues affecting children and youth in the Middle East has become more challenging, as the public pays less and less attention to civil society and human rights violations.
Rasha Abou Dargham, originally from Lebanon, is serving as a UN Volunteer Social Media Officer with UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Office in Amman. As a UN Volunteer, she is learning how to speak on behalf of children in a multicultural and demanding environment.
Saima graduated from Rawalpindi Medical College in Pakistan and obtained her diploma and Master’s degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. After completing her studies, Saima worked as Gender Officer in UNHCR Afghanistan, as well as Medical Officer in University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.
Saima joined UNV in Jordan in May 2017 as UN Volunteer Associate Public Health Officer at UNHCR, and recently finished her one-year assignment.
It has always been my dream to step out and contribute to the greater agenda of sustainable development and to be able to support the world towards a better future. The decision to enroll in UNV’s pool of applicants allowed me to challenge the barriers women often face in Pakistan, which can prohibit us from pursuing our dreams of independently living and working abroad. Being a part of woman headed family, my mother encouraged me and stood by my decision, making sure that I am not alone throughout the process.
Saima Mohammad works as an Associate Public Health Officer for UNHCR in the North-East of Jordan, near the Syrian border. Approximately 50,000 refugees, mostly women and children, are residing in Rukban camp without access to any other health facility than the local clinic.
Every morning, Saima travels almost three hours from her office in Ruwaished to Rukban, driving through sensitive military posts on a partially-paved road. In this desert area, no facility or shop are to be seen for kilometres.
There are different interpretations of the concept of volunteering across cultures and regions, and this is equally true within Arab countries. When a wealthy citizen reacts to a natural disaster by offering to contribute money, or makes donations of blankets and food to the people affected by the disaster, this is often seen as voluntary and therefore volunteerism. Charity is a vital component of humanitarian assistance, but it is not volunteerism.
Nadeen participates today in the side event "Harnessing the Power of Volunteering to Achieve the 2030 Agenda" organized by the International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum) in New York, in the framework of the High-Level Political Forum for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme continues to demonstrate its ability to meet contemporary development and peace challenges. In 2016, UNV’s response to the refugee and migrant influx showcased this flexibility and rapid action capabilities through the deployment of hundreds of UN Volunteers who support humanitarian and development initiatives benefiting Syrian refugees and their host communities.
Responding to the refugee and migrant influx in Europe
Given record levels of youth unemployment, and political and social instability, young people in the Arab Region and around the world need positive role models more than ever.
When young people themselves provide those role models, in those who have overcome social exclusion, underemployment and poverty to bring about positive changes in their communities and countries, the effects are even more powerful.
In a region where more than sixty percent of the population is younger than thirty years old, it is imperative to engage young people meaningfully in sustainable development. The TOT in Amman will enable participants to maximize the impact of youth volunteers as partners for positive change.