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Morjane lauds scouts' work for refugee cause

News Stories, 20 September 2004

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane with the BBC's Owen Bennet-Jones, who moderated the World Scout Movement roundtable discussion in Geneva.

GENEVA, Sept 17 (UNHCR) Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane has lauded the World Scout Movement for its work on behalf of young refugees across the globe, borrowing the scouts' motto to stress that UNHCR will always "be prepared" for refugee emergencies.

Morjane was speaking at the "Partnerships for Global Impact: Scouting in Action" roundtable discussion in Geneva on Friday. Organised by the World Scout Foundation, the event sought to show more than 200 donors how scouts are working with international organisations on issues facing young people today.

Also on the panel were His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden, who is the honorary president of the foundation; the heads of various world scout movements; and representatives from partner agencies like the International Telecommunications Union and the World Bank.

"Over the years, scouts have done important and dedicated work for refugees, both on the ground and through awareness-raising activities," said Morjane, noting that UNHCR and the World Association of the Scout Movement signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 1995.

With more than 28 million members in 215 countries and territories, the World Scout Movement has implemented many projects to help refugees in the field. Scouts have helped with vaccination and environmental protection in Tanzania's refugee camps, taught refugee rights to children in Armenia, run workshops and recreational activities to rehabilitate traumatised kids in Croatia, distributed peace packs and sorted relief materials for Bosnian refugees in Turkey, and organised activities to help young refugees integrate in France and the Netherlands.

"UNHCR and the scouts are both committed to promoting peace and self-reliance internationally, qualities that enable us to work together for the good of refugees the world over," said the Assistant High Commissioner. "I urge today's scouts to continue to channel their energy, enthusiasm and commitment towards refugee causes."

Besides projects that benefit refugees directly, UNHCR's partnership with the scouts has helped to raise awareness of refugee issues among youth around the world. The refugee agency is a regular presence at the Scout Jamboree held every four years, sensitising young people to the challenges faced by refugees. The scouts, in turn, have supported UNHCR through World Refugee Day activities in countries like Ghana, Italy, Norway and Tunisia.

"Like the scouts, UNHCR believes in the motto, 'Be prepared'," said Morjane. "We have to build our own capacities and partnerships so that we can respond to the unforeseen. At UNHCR, we take this seriously, and invest considerable resources to ensure that we are always prepared to handle any possible refugee emergency."

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