Mariam Al Hammadi, director of Salam Al Seghar Image Credit: Courtesy: Sharjah Media Centre

Dubai: Queen Rania of Jordan will visit Sharjah to shed light on the 1.8 million refugee children in the Mena region.

The Queen will be one of the keynote speakers at the “Investing in the future: protecting refugee children and adolescents- Mena” conference, which will take place in Sharjah on October 15 and 16.

This was announced during a press conference on Wednesday.

There are more than 3.8 million refugees in the Mena region, out of which, 1.8 million are children who lack basic needs, are deprived of education and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

For this reason, more than 300 international officials, that include ministers and policy makers, will be invited to the event to discuss the issues of refugee children and, hopefully, come out with policies that can better their situation.

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. It will be held upon invitation from Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of the ruler of Sharjah and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Mohammad Abu Asaker, the Public Information and Communications Officer at UNHCR, said the number of refugee children is expected to increase from 1.8 million to two million in the next two months. He pointed out that o out of the 3.8 million refugees in the Mena region 3 million are Syrians.

“The conference comes at a very sensitive time as the region is facing war and turmoil that is resulting in an increasing number of refugees. More than half of the 1.8 refugee children are without an education and 8,000 children are alone and not accompanied by parents. They are identified as separated from immediate family,” Abu Asaker said.

He added that the world needs to act to save the children who are facing exploitation, early marriage, trafficking and child labour.

“The world needs to step in to save these children; many of them are born as refugees and live as refugees instead of living life as normal children and contributing to society.”

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Al Seghar, said that the conference will include a number of discussion panels and workshops over the two-day session.

She said there will also be policy forum activities which will present panels titled “Towards better protection of refugee children and adolescents in the Mena region”, “Enhancing protection of refugee children through national and international protection frameworks”, and four parallel sessions that will discuss children protection, sexual and gender-based violence, children affected by armed conflict, and the importance of legal documentation.

“A youth forum will also be held on the sidelines of the conference to spread awareness among youth on the refugee issues in the region and highlight initiatives and workshops that encourage youth to interact and positively contribute to the community,” she said.

Other speakers will include Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; Dr Nabeel Al Arabi, Secretary-General of the Arab League; Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and Lynne Featherstone, UK Minister.