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
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is building such win-win relationships between the public sector and private sector. In 2014, UNV took part in the founding of IMPACT 2030, a global private sector-led collaboration to advance the achievement of the SDGs. While such collaboration at the global level is vital to build broad support to strengthen partnerships between the two sectors, cooperation at the local level is crucial to positively impact communities.
For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children's survival, protection and development. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
Following the earthquake, the situation of women and girls was of special concern because they are more likely to become victims of violence and discrimination in a humanitarian emergency. Displacement, over-crowed camps, lack of privacy and lighting, limited and unsegregated wash facilities increase the risks.
The training is a way to inform and prepare the youth volunteers to better understand the role of UN Youth Volunteers in the context of the United Nations.
The Governments of Korea, Ireland, Luxembourg and China are funding the volunteer assignments of these UN Youth Volunteers. After their training, they will serve in Myanmar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Mongolia, State of Palestine, Panama, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Zimbabwe, Viet Nam, Senegal, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Thailand.
In 2015, I got the opportunity to become a UN Volunteer Child Protection Officer with UNICEF in Sudan. In a country severely affected by armed conflict, displacement and food insecurity, the humanitarian needs remain critical. In addition to an estimated 2.2 million people displaced internally, Sudan has received over a quarter of a million refugees fleeing the war in South Sudan. Approximate 70 per cent of these displaced people are children.
When I first landed to the international airport of Bujumbura to work as an international UN Volunteer for UNICEF, I realized the situation in the country was highly volatile.
With over 4,000 participants, the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM11), held July 15-16 2016, was the largest diplomatic gathering to come to Mongolia to date. In addition to the main international summit, there were nine preceding meetings.
Some 1,200 young men and women assisted these events as youth volunteers, garnering much recognition for their great work. The President of Mongolia commended them for being the first-ever and the biggest youth volunteer group in Mongolia. Each and every volunteer was given a certificate of appreciation.
Ramallah, State of Palestine: "Adolescents can be powerful agents of change in communities," says Chizuru Iwata, an international UN Volunteer from Japan, who worked with UNICEF as a UNV Adolescent Participation Officer in the State of Palestine.
Her volunteer assignment was by no means in an easy environment. A 51-day Israeli military operation in July and August 2014, according to United Nations reports, left several thousand people dead, many of whom were children, and over 10,000 injured. It destroyed and damaged homes, leaving tens of thousands homeless.
New Delhi, India: Miho Yoshikawa, an international UN Volunteer from Japan, was stationed in India with UNICEF. As a UNV Child Protection Officer in UNICEF’s Delhi office, she was responsible for programme monitoring, assistance to the organization’s state offices, documentation and research.