Avoiding a Lost Generation of Refugees through Jobs and Education

20 May 2017

Published
20 May 2017
2017
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Georg Schmitt, Lead, Corporate Affairs and Foundations, Public Engagement, Email: georg.schmitt@weforum.org

· Refugee issues must be addressed in terms of empowerment; and refugees need jobs, skills training and education

· New technologies can help countries assimilate and support refugees

· Refugees should be seen as a resource not as a burden to the countries that host them

· For more information about the meeting: http://wef.ch/mena17

Dead Sea, Jordan, 20 May 2017 – In a session on the opening day of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, underlined that refugee issues must be addressed in terms of empowerment: “Refugees need jobs and education,” she said. “We cannot afford to have any lost generations.”

The world currently has about 65 million displaced people and 23 million refugees. Refugees are placing enormous strains on Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and creating tensions in many European countries.

Given concerns expressed by citizens about potential risks to countries that allow refugees to enter, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada, argued that national security can be protected, while help can be provided to refugees. “Canada views refugees are resources, not burdens. Canada assumes that all refugees will become citizens,” he said.

Imad Najib Fakhoury, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said that Jordan has reached the saturation point, with over 2.8 million refugees residing within the country. But the country has demonstrated “huge generosity,” he noted.

New technologies can help with refugee integration, said Rafiah Ibrahim, President, Middle East and Africa Market Area, Ericsson, United Arab Emirates. They can provide systems for identification, education and communications. She pointed out that technology companies have also played a major role in dealing with disease epidemics and natural disasters.

The World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa is taking place at the Dead Sea in Jordan on 19-21 May. With the full support and presence of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, this year marks the Forum’s ninth meeting in Jordan and the 16th meeting in the region. More than 1,000 business and political leaders and representatives from civil society, international organizations, youth and the media from over 50 countries will participate under the theme, Enabling a Generational Transformation.

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.