At the beginning of August, Goms, a district in the heart of Switzerland, hosted the national Scouts Jamboree. The quiet valley suddenly filled up with 30,000 scouts, aged 8 to 20 years old, eager to explore the outdoors but also learn about global issues. Alongside other agencies, UNHCR had its own stand during the rally, to raise awareness of Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the importance of quality education for displaced youth.
Through this event, our UNHCR colleague Rayan Deeb, was able to meet with hundreds of scouts coming from Switzerland but also from Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Serbia, the US, the UK, and more. She highlighted that around the globe, there are now 100 million forcibly displaced people and that 48% of all refugee children remain out of school.
The scouts, who are driven by values similar to those of UNHCR, such as respect and equality, were eager to learn more about forced displacement.
Refugees live in camps similar to the one we’re in, however they might not have access to the activities, resources and services that we are privileged to have, such as tents, food, water and education. We are staying in this camp for two weeks, but refugees may live in camps for five years, ten years or even more.
said Jeanne, a 13 year old scout from Geneva. Some older participants, such as Salome, a scout member ever since she was 8 years old, now volunteer to help refugees:
At the scouts, we learn how to welcome everyone, to respect and treat everyone equally, no matter where we’re from, how we look, or what we like. All of this has empowered me to stand up for human rights and to work in a refugee camp in Northern Greece.
After watching informative videos and engaging in discussions, the scouts wrote messages to refugees on a solidarity wall. Solidarity messages such as "We stand with you", “You are not alone” and "Education for all" portrayed the scouts’ commitment to support refugees.
The scouts also talked about how to welcome refugees in their schools and universities. Ideas included setting up buddy systems, organizing social events and advocating for scholarships. By taking such impactful actions, young supporters can play a big role in improving refugees' access to education.
The power of youth to create a more welcoming world for people forced to flee is crucial to UNHCR. The UN Refugee Agency is building a network of Young Champions across continents – a community of young supporters and refugees who can help advocate, volunteer, create content, fundraise and innovate for people forced to flee, in their communities, schools and universities. If you’re interested in becoming a Young Champion, please contact us!