Young humanitarians in action prior to the 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference

Published: 21 October 2014 19:10 CET

By Raefah Makki, IFRC, Beijing

At a time when the world is rapidly changing, where protracted crises and the combined effects of natural disasters, climate change, urbanisation and emerging health threats are causing new levels of vulnerability; 49 Red Cross Red Crescent youth delegates from 35 countries in Asia Pacific and the Middle East met from 20-21 October in Beijing China, prior to the 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference.

Under the theme of ‘Young Humanitarians in Action’, the youth leaders, many of whom work in countries affected by crises and natural disasters, concluded the two-day Youth Summit and issued the ‘Beijing Youth Commitments 2014’ declaring their commitment to do more, do better, and reach further as they represent thousands of young humanitarians of the Asia Pacific and Middle East.

With these commitments, youth delegates have agreed to contribute to the humanitarian diplomacy efforts of their respective National Societies to strongly advocate for respect of the emblem and security and safety of volunteers. They have also declared their commitment to continue engaging effectively in national and global youth policies with a strong reinforcement of their regional youth networks.

The Commitments 2014 also highlight the willingness of the Asia Pacific and Middle East youth delegates to work together with their senior leadership as equal partners on the journey towards delivering their collective humanitarian mission more robustly.

Acknowledging the pivotal role of social media in enhancing the Red Cross Red Crescent reach to vulnerable communities and sharing knowledge, the youth delegates have also committed to championing innovative use of social media and communications technologies.

During the two day summit, young leaders came together to share experiences and discuss challenges related to their daily work. The goal of this summit was to strengthen the connection of young people in order to identify the regional challenges and improve service delivery for vulnerable people across the region.

After the successful adoption of the Youth Engagement Strategy in last year’s General Assembly, the young leaders have discussed tools for strengthening and maintaining the networks in their regions and identified actions necessary to implement it at national level under the context of Asia Pacific region.

“These two days were exceptional. We have learned a lot from each and every participant. I discovered that we don’t only share common interests or goals, yet we all face similar challenges and opportunities in pursuing our work,” said Salam Khorshid from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and a member of the Asia Pacific Youth Commission. “I was inspired by the excitement of all the participants, and I think we need to maximize the opportunity to take action in our own National Societies.”

Young people from the Asia Pacific and Middle East make up more than 70 per cent of the total number of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers worldwide and they are on the front lines of major crises and disasters affecting their countries.

“In this second Asia Pacific Youth Summit, we renewed our commitment to put the Youth Engagement Strategy into action and to reinforce the youth networks in our respective regions. We know our leaders are committed too, yet we need to make sure these commitments and action points are implemented and integrated at each and every Red Cross Red Crescent National Society,” said Abdullah Al Razwan, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and IFRC Youth Commission member for Asia Pacific.

The second Asia Pacific Youth Summit declaration will be presented and discussed on the first day of the 9th Asia Pacific Regional Conference hosted by the Red Cross Society of China from the 21 - 24 October 2014 which will be inaugurated tomorrow under the theme: Inspiring Innovation in Asia Pacific in a New Era of Influence and Action.