Delegate: Mr. Saya Abdullah
81. Mr. Abdullah (Netherlands), speaking as a youth delegate, said that when he was a young child his family, which was of Kurdish origin, had been forced to seek shelter in a refugee camp in the Middle East and had then travelled to the Netherlands in the hope of finding a future. He recalled queuing to receive water, sleeping in the open air and walking for days, but noted that many people were currently in a far more desperate situation. He had been accepted into the tolerant Dutch society and was now in a position to speak to the international community on behalf of Dutch youth.
82. The current mass migration was seen by some a sa human right, by some as a natural process and by others as a threat. Refugees often became the primary targets of racist hatred, while political discourse in some countries had blurred the lines between asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants, immigrants and seasonal workers. Many Governments had responded by protecting their borders and neglecting people in need, and the human face of the issue was often [*12*] forgotten in the midst of heated debate. However, the current crisis would not be solved by higher walls.
83. Over the past year, he had spoken to thousands of ofyoung people in the Netherlands, visited youth in refugee camps in conflict areas and worked with other youth representatives to consider ways to address the humanitarian crisis. The current situations highlighted the interdependence of members of the international community: problems in one State could have immediate consequences for other States. Refugees, more than half of whom were under the age of 18, were living in insecure situations and without access to food, water, sanitation or essential health services, including psychosocial care.
84. Furthermore, it would be impossible to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without the participation of young people, given that half of the world’s population was under the age of 25 and that 90 per cent of young people lived in developing countries. The Secretary-General had recognized that the greatest shortfall in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals had been the lack of strong accountability at the national and international levels. It would be essential to avoid making the same mistake with the sustainable development Goals and to take into account the ability of young people to act as powerful agents to hold global leaders to account.
85.As a child, he would never have imagined that one day he would have the opportunity to address the organization that had once given him shelter. Sixteen years previously he had asked the United Nations for safety, water and food. Now he asked the Organization to show solidarity with one of the largest refugee populations that the world had ever seen. Young people had the power to bring about change at the local level, whether through practical assistance or simply a welcoming attitude. He, therefore, urged the international community to take action, on behalf of young refugees, young Dutch volunteers who were welcoming new immigrants, and a whole generation of young people who deserved to grow up in a multicultural society, as he had.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/70/SR.1