Arab League includes “Sharjah Principles” on Childhood Committee’s agenda

Experts discussed the principles in a session aimed at protecting refugee children

In another groundbreaking achievement for Sharjah, The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) announced that the Arab League’s Childhood Committee has added the “Sharjah Principles” to the agenda of the 13th meeting of the committee which took place in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh yesterday (Wednesday).

The Sharjah Principles are dedicated to providing protection and a dignified life to refugee children and adolescents worldwide. The principles were announced on the conclusion of the “Investing in the Future: Protecting Refugee Children and Adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa (IIFMENA) Conference” hosted by Sharjah in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in mid-October, 2014.

The Women, Family and Childhood Department- the Social Affairs Sector of the Arab League’s General Secretariat discussed the Sharjah Principles during a special session tasked with following up the cessation of violence against children. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 21stedition of the Arab Childhood Committee.

Mariam Al Hammadi, Manager of Salam YaSeghar, an initiative of TBHF, said, “This new milestone for the emirate of Sharjah and the UAE highlights the hard work of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children to support refugee children and provide them with a dignified life and protect them against dangers that threaten their mental and physical health. Her Highness also works tirelessly to ensure refugee children receive basic rights and to speed up international efforts to ensure their return home after the end of the crisis that prompted them to seek shelter in neighboring countries.”

Al Hammadi added that the “Sharjah Principles” are given great attention by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qassimi who has called for going to any lengths to put the principles into place in collaboration with regional and international humanitarian organisations dedicated to refugees, as well as with neighbourly countries.

“I am confident that the inclusion of the “Sharjah Principles” on the agenda of the Arab League’s Childhood Committee meeting will endorse the principles, paving the way for submitting them to other regional and international organisations. This will consequently contribute to reducing the plight of refugee children and adolescents and providing them with better living conditions and protecting them against dangers,” said Al Hammadi.

The Sharjah Principles stipulate that:
1. All refugee children and adolescents to enjoy international protection.
2. All refugee children and adolescents to have their best interests taken as a primary consideration in all matters affecting their well-being and their future.
3. All refugee children to be registered and documented at birth in countries of asylum.
4. All refugee children and adolescents to enjoy their right to family unity and be protected from family separation.
5. All refugee children and adolescents to enjoy their right to quality education in a safe environment supportive of their developmental needs.
6. All refugee children and adolescents to be protected against violence, abuse, and exploitation, including child labour, and have access to national systems and services delivered in a protective way, including health and psychosocial support.

The emirate of Sharjah hosted the “Investing in the Future” conference, the first regional conference of its kind. The conference was held in collaboration between The Big Heart Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in response to the growing number of refugees resulting from war and conflict.

The conference saw the participation of over 300 global leaders and government officials concerned with the issues of refugee children in the region and the world, in addition to hundreds of experts, academics, school and university students, and media representatives. It succeeded in discussing collective action to protect refugee children and adolescents, enhance joint work and step up collective efforts to improve the lives of refugee children through a number of panel discussions, sessions, and other events over two days.