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Every year International Youth Day (IYD) is marked on the 12th of August. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Youth Task Force in Zaatari Camp (YTF) and its chair and co-chair UNFPA-Jordan and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) respectively opted to celebrate IYD virtually. The event hosted youth activists in Zaatari Camp to shed light on their positive and active participation in the camp during COVID-19 response.

This year’s IYD theme highlights youth engagement on the global, national and local levels, in line with the Global Compact for young people in Humanitarian Action, which was launched in Jordan on the 30th of June 2020. The global compact capitalizes on youth participation investment during crisis, which makes COVID-19 no different.

The virtual event brought together a number of key speakers and participants, among whom were Canada’s ambassador to Jordan, and all 17 member organizations (UN agencies and NGOs). In addition to the participation of a number of donor agencies, humanitarian actors in the camp,  as well as active youth members from Zaatari Camp, and lastly community members from the camp.

Ms. Enshrah Ahmed, Head of UNFPA-Jordan office commenced the celebration with a welcoming remark, in which she stressed that Youth in Zaatari Camp provides inspirational examples on youth active participation in COVID-19 response and more. UNFPA and its commitment to The Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action works on providing live examples for effective participation, by supporting youth committees, youth coordination, and youth leadership in co-designing our programmes and proposals where possible.

Followed by another welcoming remark by NRC Country Director Ms. Muriel Tschopp, who highlighted the importance of working together to support platforms and create opportunities where young people can play an active role in humanitarian response.

Ms. Irene Omondi, Head of Mafraq Office, and UNHCR Camp Manager gave her speech, which highlighted it is essential that we recognize the essential work that the youth have done during the pandemic, being fully present, they are our key partners. With over 50% of the population being youth and young people, we need to affirm our commitment to ensure the support they need to realize their dreams and aspirations.

Lastly, H.E. Ms. Donica Pottie, Canada’s ambassador to Jordan delivered her speech, in which she spoke of Canada's partnership with UNFPA, both in Jordan and globally, and commended the youth of Zaatari for their work to bring their creativity and ideas together to address their issues of concern.

The first item on the Virtual IYD 2020 agenda was the announcement of a series of films “Compact for Young People”, and premiered “Youth Participation in Zaatari Camp” short film. It showcased mechanisms of youth engagement in the camp during COVID-19 pandemic, and associated challenges namely during the “lockdown” period, and how it propelled innovative ideas from the youth themselves.

Then, a panel discussion with active youth members from Zaatari Camp was conducted to further speak about challenges, their experience under COVID-19 and answer their peers’ queries during the Q &A session later on. Ms. Hajar Al Masri, a Syrian volunteer at Blumont expressed that “This event is extremely important, as it gives us the opportunity to highlight success stories, so they can be a source of inspiration to other youth”.

Towards the end of the activity, the youth directed and shot a short film titled “Youth resilience under COVID-19” which was screened and was received with much attention and praise by the virtual audience.

Gratitude and appreciation for everyone who was part of making this event a huge success.