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Young people in crises are saving lives and rebuilding communities

Young Woman in Gaza Strip

Young People's Work is Unrecognized

A new report from ActionAid and Restless development shows that young people who are hit by crises are key players in saving lives and rebuilding the lives of themselves and their communities. However, young people often fail to receive recognition for the impact crises has on them and experience just being engaged in humanitarian action as labour without having a real say in decisions and operations. That is the conclusion of a new report “Shifting power to young people – how young people can lead and drive solutions in humanitarian action” which is based on the input of 400 young people across 54 countries. The report collects experience from ActionAid’s work in Gaza, Jordan, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Myanmar and Bangladesh among others.

The General Director of ActionAid Palestine Ibrahim Ibraigheth commented on the report saying: “Young people demand to be listened to in situations of emergency and crises. It is up to us as humanitarian organizations to deal with the double fact that the world is experiencing increasing frequency and severity of natural hazards, disease outbreaks and man-made crises while also hosting the biggest ever generation of young people. Our choice is not if we involve them, but rather how, because they cannot and should not be overlooked”.

The report also shows that especially young women are most heavily impacted by crises and should have far more recognition and space for their leadership when crises hits. To be a young woman in a disaster area is extremely dangerous, as gender-based violence and lifting heavy burdens as caretakers for shattered families is frequent. Both young men and young women experience that emergencies and protracted crises can have a lifelong negative impact on their opportunities. If not engaged, young people run the risk of being excluded from existing power structures and prevented from accessing the support and decision-making spaces they urgently need to build back their lives, and community.

The report recommended that young people can be doubly disadvantaged in protracted crises and emergencies and their needs must be considered through an intersectional lens. They should be at the centre of humanitarian action and be supported in their participation and leadership in humanitarian responses. In addition, missed education, poor mental health and sexual violence are urgent challenges facing young people and must be prioritised and mitigated.

Young people are first responders and must be included in decision-making and leadership positions at every stage of humanitarian action and they are uniquely placed to play a valuable and necessary role in citizen-led accountability initiatives and must be put in the driving seat for accountability.

ActionAid Palestine shared that in both the West Bank and Gaza they have been working with young people to develop their own preparedness and response plans. A midterm evaluation of ActionAid’s resilience programme in the West Bank highlighted that good practice not only enables young people to lead the development of their preparedness plans, but ensures they are actively harmonised with the plans of other actors. It found that, “touch points between young women and young men and other actors leading on response must be embedded in programming and should be focused on mapping out integration and moments of collective action”.

In Gaza, young women and men are part of preparedness committees, established by ActionAid Palestine and their partners.  By taking part in preparedness work, norms are shifted gradually, since young people work within the group and normalise their contribution and leadership. In interviews, the young people involved were well-organized and collaborative members of the preparedness committees. They demonstrated an improved understanding of their rights and leadership.

Read the full report here:

Background Information


ActionAid is ActionAid is a global federation working for a world free from poverty and injustice. It is a leading international charity working in over 45 countries. We work with the poorest women and children in the world, changing their lives for good. Our local staff provide immediate, hands-on support to women and children living on the margins of survival. Together we demand action at local, national and international level. We don’t walk away until we’ve achieved lasting change. 


For more information, please contact:

Riham Jafari Coordinator of Advocacy&Communication in ActionAid Palestine

Mobile Number: +972 (0) 595242890