On Thursday November 30th and Friday December 1st, OYSU participated in the 10th session of the forum on minority issues at the United Nations, the forum is a 2-day meeting convened in Switzerland every year. Participants, included Member States, minority representatives, civil society, national and regional organisations, as well as Intergovernmental organisations where they discussed and identified a number of action-oriented recommendations on a specific topic of relevance for minorities, this year it was on minority youth. The Forum is guided by the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues and is a platform for dialogue, cooperation and networking between all participants. It provided an opportunity to discuss in a multilateral international setting good practices and issues relating to minority youth and a chance to network with like minded youth organisations.Importantly, the forum prepared recommendations that were presented by the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The forum served as a great opportunity for OYSU members to have their voices heard at the UN, and learn how to use international human rights tools to make a difference for our community. As well as having the opportunity to present the plight of Ogaden youth in front of the entire forum including state representatives, OYSU also participated in a side-event organised by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation titled ‘Paving the way for inclusivity for minority youth’. This provided an additional platform to raise issues faced by Ogaden youth such as discriminatory practices in accessing education and healthcare. OYSU representative Mariam Ali took the floor to give a presentation of the dire situation of the Somali youth in the Ogaden region. She recalled the United Nations treaties that protect minority groups and underlined that “it [is] as if these rights and conventions do not exist in the Ogaden region”. Stressing that the Somali youth do not have the same opportunities as the rest of the youth across Ethiopia, Mariam told the audience about the risks to which young Ogadenis are exposed, including childhood mortality, forced displacement and various traumas due to their precarious situations.