25 October 2017

2017 EuroNGOs Conference missed participants from Pakistan due to denied entry to Belgium

Just before the 2017 EuroNGOs conference kicked off on 27 September, the EuroNGOs team was saddened to learn that two participants from Pakistan could not join us in Brussels since their visa applications to enter Belgium were denied.

One of them was Muhammad Sarim Imran from Pakistan Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR). Sarim was an active member of the youth working group which was established in July 2017 to plan for youth particicipation during the conference. He also co-organised one of the creation hub sessions that focused on youth issues. We asked him to share with us his key messages that he was unable to deliver during the conference.

My excitement turned into sadness when I was not able to join the 2017 EuroNGO conference due to visa rejection which is unfortunately often faced by young people from developing and underdeveloped countries. Despite of the fact that I put my heart into the conference, I faced tribulation on the last hour.

From my personal perspective, it is very important to highlight the issues young people are facing regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights due to increasing populism and opposition in conservative regions. In these regions, many young people turn their energy into activism and are inspired by others, like Malala Yousafzai, to not to give up their fight for a better future. However, the challenges related to the migration policies and visa denials affect the goals and objectives of the youth development as these international meetings and platforms are very important for the global mutual cooperation to stand together and to fight for the rights and development for all.

South Asia needs a lot of attention and support, as this region is one of the most youth populated regions in the the world. When I talk about my country Pakistan, there are a lot of issues and hurdles experienced by young people, such as lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information & services, early age marriages, sexual abuse, increasing rate of HIV & AIDS, discrimination of minority rights and more. Therefore, we have to fight together to counter these issues through global and interregional partnerships to empower youth, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure SRHR for all. This is a message I am keen to work on with global youth advocates for making this world a safe space for young people. I am eagerly looking forward to the next Eurongos conference  with much more passion, strength and hope.

Muhammad Sarim Imran, Development Assistant / Treasurer of Board of Directors – Pakistan Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR)