JRS Presence at Global Refugee Forum Advances Advocacy for Refugee Education and Protection

JRS presence at the UN Global Refugee Forum 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13 to 15 December included a delegation composed by Br. Michael Schöpf SJ (JRS International Director), Christine Bloch (JRS Geneva Representative), Angelo Pittaluga (JRS Global Head of Advocacy), Jill Drzewiecki (JRS Gender Responsive Education Specialist) and Angie Torres, a young Colombian refugee living in Ecuador since 2016. Joining the official delegation, Hiba Salem, Pedro Arrupe Research Fellow in Oxford, also attended the first part of the GRF at the education campus.

During the GRF, JRS co-led two high level link events: Cartagena40+: Commitment to refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the presentation of the research Accelerate with Care: Towards Gender-Responsive Secondary Accelerated Education at the Secondary Education event. The full report on Secondary Accelerated Education Programming that JRS presented can be accessed here.

JRS has signed to the following pledges:
MHPSS – Fostering Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing, + Socio Emotional Learning (SEL) as an enabler to education outcomes for refugee, displaced, and host community children and youth.
Education – Towards a shared responsibility to uphold the right to education and include refugee children in national education systems, + Multi stakeholders pledge on Secondary education.
Gender Equality and Protection from Gender based violence.
Protection – child rights.
Climate – Climate action and finance.
Partnerships – Refugee participation.
Rohingya Refugees – Expanded resilience, enhanced solutions.

Some members of JRS GRF Delegation: Jill Drzewiecki, Christine Bloch, Angie Torres, Michael Schöpf, Angelo Pittaluga.

A complete description of the pledges and of the specific contribution that JRS has committed to provide in the next 4 years is available at this link: Pledges & Contributions | The Global Compact on Refugees | UNHCR

These pledges underscore how JRS will commit to strengthening meaningful refugees’ participation by creating advocacy opportunities allowing the voices of the people served to lead in our local and global advocacy efforts while engaging in partnerships with refugee-led organizations.

With regard to Education, a main priority is the inclusion of refugee children in national education systems, as a pre-condition for meaningful inclusion with the host communities. It was highlighted the importance of bridging education and job employability (from learning to employment), the attention to minorities and vulnerable groups, in particular girls, children with disability and LGBTQI+ youth, and the crucial importance of secondary education (a sector where JRS has a recognized global leadership).

Jill Drzewiecki and Hiba Salem present at the Secondary Education Event.
Angie Torres, a young Colombian refugee and advocate at the GRF.

In regards to MHPSS, it emerged how this sector has an increasing importance and is reflecting growing demand from refugees, so that more States and non-state actors are willing to invest and engage. MHPSS is also related to Education through the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) approach. On this specific topic, the LEGO foundation has made a pledge focusing on “learning by playing” and committing 40M USD for activities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Jordan and Lebanon. The leading governments and actors with a specific interest on this topic are Germany, Netherlands, European Commission, UNHCR, Amal Alliance.

During the meeting with the UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, JRS presented the global advocacy priorities and made reference to the situation in Myanmar, in Sudan and South Sudan, sharing information received by the field. Grandi appreciated the focus of JRS on Education, MHPSS and access to territory (encouraging to adopt/emphasize a “whole-of-route approach”). He shared his concerns for the deteriorating crises in Myanmar and Sudan and encouraged JRS to strengthen its advocacy efforts jointly with other organizations and the Holy See. With regard to Sudan/South Sudan, he stressed the key role played by the Catholic Church in the local context.

This article was first published in The JRS News blog by Cynthia Bomben.