World Scouting and UNHCR explore plans to strengthen collaboration
On 27 June 2019, Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, Ahmad Alhendawi and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, along with other UNHCR representatives gathered to explore opportunities to strengthen the collaboration between them.
Held at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, the meeting was an opportunity to for the two organisations to discuss how several of their strategic priorities aligned, to agree on a collaborative way forward on both a global and local level.
As the world’s largest educational youth movement of over 50 million young people around the world, the Scout Movement has been working in difficult circumstances to create a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds, integrating vulnerable communities, including refugees into its educational programmes and activities, through a large network of volunteers.
The work of Scouts with refugees stretches across the Middle East in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia and into Europe where Scouts have worked closely with refugee communities in transit sites in North Macedonia, and welcomed young refugees into Scouting in Greece, France, Austria, Germany and other European hosting countries. Here Scouts are volunteering at asylum centres, providing support for people on the move, contributing to relief work at camps, and integrating refugee children into existing Scout groups.
During the meeting, UNHCR recognized the valuable role the Scout Movement can play in supporting refugees worldwide. Leading up to the Global Refugee Forum, commencing in December 2019, UNHCR and World Scouting will work together to identify concrete actions that National Scout Organizations can take, in collaboration with UNHCR country offices, with a focus on Non-Formal Education for refugees.
The two organisations are also planning to formalize their collaboration with the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) towards the end of the year.
Scouting allows young refugees the opportunity to participate in many activities and trainings focused on peace-building and skills development. Through its Scouts for SDGs initiative and Messengers of Peace and a focus on Goals 4, 10 and 16 to offer learning opportunities, reduce inequalities and promote peace, Scouting is increasing its efforts to reach more communities who have been displaced to enable them to pursue sustainable livelihoods, and to ensure that every young person is given the opportunity to thrive.
Scouting will apply its Non-Formal Education methods to contribute to the protection, inclusion and empowerment of refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons. The collaboration with UNHCR will allow World Scouting to strengthen the preparedness and capacity of National Scout Organizations for humanitarian response while scaling up peacebuilding activities to mitigate displacement.