Sharjah: In response to the increasing number of refugees in war-torn countries in the region, Sharjah will be hosting the first Investing in the Future Conference to discuss child and youth displacement issues and ways to protect refugee children.

Set to take place on October 15-16, the conference will be held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah.

The conference has been organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in collaboration with The Big Heart Campaign. Shaikha Jawaher, founder of the campaign, emphasised that every child has the right to grow up in a safe and stable environment and to live a decent life. She stressed the necessity for organisations and individuals around the world to take responsibility for these children and insisted that the international community must ensure that children’s rights are upheld and sustained.

The two-day conference is expected to see the participation of over 300 leaders, government officials and regional and international experts involved in refugee affairs and child protection in war-torn areas.

Highlighting the crucial timing of the conference, António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that while children currently constitute more than half of the refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), the impact of this displacement is serious as interrupted childhoods threaten to become lost futures. “The aim of this event is not only to determine how we can work together to better protect refugee children and adolescents today, but also how to take collective and concerted action to improve the future for these children.”

A Youth Forum has also been organised to run parallel to the main event, with the aim of providing youth in the Mena region with a platform of engagement and awareness on child displacement issues. The forum will host a number of workshops and sessions, and is expected to be attended by approximately 500 university students, faculty members and academics.