Engaging youth: Palestine refugees in a changing Middle East

12 March 2012

By Chris Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson

One year after the start of a tumultuous twelve months in the Middle East, where have these momentous events left increasingly marginalised Palestine refugee youth? They will number over 1.5 million by 2020, so what should the international community do to engage this vital constituency for Middle East peace?

According to many predictions, a quarter of these will be unemployed — which represents both an opportunity and also a risk for the region. But how should those risks be managed and the opportunities embraced?

Conference on Palestine refugee youth

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), along with the European Union and the Government of the Kindgom of Belgium, is hosting a major international conference in Brussels on Palestine refugee youth. The event brings together policy-makers, human development practitioners, and leading members of the diplomatic and donor communities. In a series of thematic panel discussions, the conference will look at youth marginalisation and define actions in areas such as education, microfinance, and civil society where young people can be engaged.

Participants include Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Dr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, and Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA. The two-day event begins at 14:00 on Monday, 19 March 2012 at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, Belgium.

If you are a blogger or journalist, old or new media, for interview requests and information about registration, please contact:

Jessica Burke (English)
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2752
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0779


Sami Mshasha (Arabic)
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724


Background information:

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for nearly five million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight. The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, social safety-net, camp infrastructure and improvement, community support, microfinance and emergency response, including in times of armed conflict.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by contributions from States. The Agency’s core budget for 2012-2013 stands at USD 1.33 billion. In 2012, emergency appeals for the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon amounted to USD 344.0 million.