On 12 December 2017, over 200 Afghan refugee children from schools across Tehran province participated in a fun-filled day of activities which focused on refugee child protection, in an effort foster childhood development and self-confidence through learning and play.
With the support of UNHCR Field Office Tehran, Provincial Bureau of Aliens and Foreign Immigrants’ Affairs (BAFIA) Tehran collaborated with the Kanoun Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Youth, ILIA NGO and the Imam Ali Association to organize this exciting event in Tehran.
Through the close cooperation and planning between the organisations, the child-centred programme took place under the name ‘Joy & Play in the Shadow of Peace & Security’ and worked to raise awareness on important aspects of refugee child protection through various activities. UNHCR Deputy Representative, Ms. Irina Korenyak, and Deputy DG BAFIA Tehran, Ms. Ghadaimi, also gave speeches to appreciate the child-friendly initiative and the collaborative efforts of all organisations involved.
The day’s vibrant performances included storytelling and book reading by Afghan children, professional puppet shows, live music from Afghanistan and Iran, origami demonstrations, video screenings and interactive performances with child compères. The event concluded in a lunch for all children. Many of the activities featured messaging and storytelling on the sentiment of openness, hospitality and belonging – even outside ones’ homeland – alongside the importance of remembering one’s own culture, traditions and origins.
The programme also presented the opportunity to recognize the internationally commemorated ‘16 Days of Activism against Violence’. An informative booklet directed at both children and their parents was promoted during the event and was given to each child who attended. Produced by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters, the content of the booklet aims to educate on issues surrounding dangerous and risky behaviours including addiction, unsafe social media use, and the consequences of poor health and hygiene habits.
The ‘Joy & Play in the Shadow of Peace & Security’ event was the first of its kind held between UNHCR in cooperation with the Kanoun Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Youth. Thanks to the very successful outcome of this collaboration, it is anticipated that this event marks the beginning of a very fruitful partnership between the organisations in view of enhancing child protection for refugee children in Iran.