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“To realise my dreams I need a new wheelchair”: Adolescent refugees and intersectionality | PODCAST | Episode #5

PODCAST | Adolescents in crisis: unheard voices is a five-part podcast series that shines a light on the millions of adolescents around the world who are forced to flee their homes. They form part of a global community of some 70 million refugees, displaced because of persecution, climate crises and conflict. Nearly half of those are under 18.

The podcast series gives voice to adolescents – their lives, their stories, their aspirations and their hopes for the future. It draws on the nine-year research programme Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) and their recent publication ‘Adolescents in Humanitarian Crisis: Displacement, Gender and Social Inequalities’

“To realise my dreams I need a new wheelchair”: Adolescent refugees and intersectionality | PODCAST | Episode # 5

In the fifth and final episode of this series, we explore how young refugees cope when multiple problems or sets of needs collide – or intersectionality.

We hear from Christophe, a 13 year-old Congolese refugee who lives in a two-roomed house in Rwanda with his grandparents, six sisters and three brothers. Christophe has a physical disability and can’t walk. He longs to play with the other children outside but without his family bringing in an income, resources are very limited. We hear from experts like Dr Ola Abualghaib, who works for UNPRPD, a joint United Nations initiative to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. She says that listening to people like Christophe and understanding his needs is key to working out a way forward. “Evidence is still lacking. There is this ad hoc, anecdotal evidence but what does that mean? What are the implications on the real lives of people on a daily basis?” she says.

Intersectionality comes in many forms. We hear from Disanka, a 17-year old living in with her daughter in one of the Rwanda camps. Being a young mother and a refugee living in a camp brings with it a set of unique challenges: “It’s not easy because I am a kid too. I am a child”, she says. “It’s terrible if you have membership in many groups – you are disabled, you are poor, you are a refugee”, says Kifah Banioweda, our GAGE researcher working in Palestine.

“We know the things that will work to support UN’s overall aims to leave no one behind” says Nicola Jones, GAGE Director. These support mechanisms – education, social protection, psychosocial support to address violence or trauma – need to be reimagined as a core part of refugee support, not merely a ‘nice to have’.

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This episode’s guests:

1. Maryam* Palestinian girl in Gaza – facing conservative atmosphere in the camp she lives in which restricts her education options
2. Disanka* 16-year-old Congolese refugee living in Rwanda
3. Christophe* 13-year-old Congolese refugee living in Rwanda
4. Kifah Banioweda GAGE Researcher Palestine
5. Isimbi Roberte GAGE researcher Rwanda
6. Dr Ola Abualghaib UN partnership on the rights of people with disabilities (UNPRPD)

*The names are pseudonyms to protect individual adolescent identities