Conflicts in the Middle East have prompted mass displacement across the region— a significant proportion of which are young people, who often find themselves deprived of opportunities for education, livelihoods and civic engagement. This reality has contributed to a profound sense of exclusion and disempowerment among displaced youth. At the same time, it is increasingly recognized that youth engagement — increasing youth capacity and agency to make decisions over programs and policies that affect their lives — can have positive impacts on their personal, social and human development. International and local organizations can play a critical role in leveraging the potential of young people to serve as active contributors to their communities and take ownership over their own futures.

This project involved a multi-country study across Syria (remotely), Jordan, Lebanon, and Greece to examine: 1) youth perspectives and ideas on their engagement in existing programs and their own initiatives, and 2) organizational perspectives, strategies, and constraints to engage youth in the various phases of programming.

Although contexts vary from country to country, this study highlighted the priorities and concerns of displaced youth and the challenges they face. While organizations working with displaced youth often recognize the value of youth engagement, many lack effective means to delegate decision-making authority and resources to youth in their programs. Organizational strategies for youth engagement range from tokenistic involvement to meaningful partnership. This study promoted good practices for youth engagement, and provided recommendations for organizations to adapt and design programming that effectively empowers and engages displaced youth as partners in change.