AfricaAfrican Youth Leaders Tell UN: We Are Force for Change

AAYP Press Release

African youth activists called on the international community Wednesday to view the 220 million young people on their continent as a positive force for change, not a problem requiring solutions.

“We must change the narrative about African youth to become a narrative of collective, positive actors, among the most informed, the most resilient generation of Africa,” said Aya Chebbi, the African Union’s special envoy on youth.

The growing youth population is often viewed as a potential time bomb for the continent, as governments struggle to provide education and good jobs to the millions of young people seeking a better life. Recruitment by armed groups and migration away from the continent have increased, as the root causes of hopelessness are not adequately addressed.

Youth envoy Chebbi, a Tunisian national who had large cutouts of African continents dangling from her earlobes, told the U.N. Security Council that negative narratives can be dangerous.

“It is disempowering,” Chebbi said. “Many young people have internalized the idea that they are marginalized and now see these violent groups as legitimate fighters, not perpetrators of violence. So we have to value our youth and their contribution to society; they will look for recognition elsewhere if we don’t.”

“If the right investments in youth are made, and their social, political and economic engagement recognized and nurtured, societies may reap a peace dividend,” said the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Africa Bience Gawanas.

She noted that across the continent the youth are demanding urgent action and are making their voices heard.

“From Algeria, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, young people are at the center of pro-democracy movements, effectively mobilizing, organizing, leading and clamoring for inclusive and accountable governance, youth participation and economic opportunities for all,” she said.

Wednesday’s Security Council debate was convened around the African Union initiative to ‘silence the guns by 2020’ and end conflict on the continent. It coincided with the International Day for Non-violence.

“We want youth to give up the guns, but can we answer the big question in the mind of a 19 or 20 year-old: Who am I? What are we offering them?” Youth envoy Chebbi asked.

Hafsa Ahmed, 27, joined the meeting via a video link from Nairobi, Kenya, where she is a co-founder of the NGO Naweza.

She said African youth face “deep rooted obstacles” to meaningful participation in peacebuilding efforts, which are traditionally the domain of the older generation.

“When young people are involved and brought to the table, it is often tokenistic and our needs and interests are often reduced to issues of education and employment, when we actually have diverse needs as youth — and the capacity to contribute to the biggest challenges facing our communities and our world,” Ahmed said.

Ugandan activist Victor Ochen recounted how many of his dreams were ruined because his childhood was spent in an internally-displaced persons camp. He told council members via video from Kampala that he made the conscious decision not to be recruited at a time when young boys around him were targeted.

“I was pondering whether picking up the gun to fight was the way to go, but something in me kept on telling me war is not option, you need an end to suffering, picking up the gun will only escalate suffering,” Ochen said. “I chose peace.”

At the age of 13 he started a peace club in the IDP camp to discourage recruitment of child soldiers. He later went on to found the African Youth Initiative Network to transform trauma into an opportunity for leadership and build peace.

“I can say it is very difficult for something good to come out of a life of conflict,” he said.

He urged governments to improve the quality of life for their citizens, address inter-ethnic issues and called on the international community to abandon sanctions, saying they do not work against the state as intended, but affect ordinary people.

Source VOA

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Youth are valuable assets that need protection – //Hoebes

By Neweralive.na (Aletta Shikololo)

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Namibia’s young people, who make up the majority of the country’s population, should be regarded as human capital assets that the country has to protect, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Christine //Hoebes has said.

Speaking at the breakfast meeting with the diplomatic community and international organisations on Wednesday, //Hoebes said the youth are regarded as the agents of change, the future and an inspiration.

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“Across the globe we are seeing the youth taking responsibility for their future and holding us accountable for the decisions we make today. Closer to home, the Namibian youth are advocating for social justice and an opportunity to make a difference. It is in this context that we’ll discuss the UN Youth Agenda and how it relates to the Namibian and African youth agendas,” she said.

“Ours is to work together (among ourselves and to work together with the youth) to present the youth with opportunities to allow them to continue to work towards enhancing sustainable development and the attainment of Vision 2030,” she said.

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The meeting was also aimed to provide an overview on the status of youth, building on the recent SADC Ministers responsible for Youth and the United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPAF), for further cooperation on the youth agenda.

In her opening remarks, United Nations Resident Coordinator Rachel Odede said the closed-door meeting would discuss issues related to the youth.

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‘The youth are our leaders of tomorrow, and they are multipliers of sustainable development,” she said.

Quoting UN Secretary General António Guterres when he launched the UN Youth Strategy last September 1, Odede said: “If we are to create a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world for all to fulfil the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need young people to lead.”

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She said it is against this background that through maximising collective comparative advantages, “we hope to propose a way forward on this important agenda”. Odede expressed strong appreciation to the government and the diplomatic community for making quality time to join the UN system in Namibia to collectively deliberate on the issues at hand.

“We very much value the dedication and efforts to ensure that no one is left behind and our commitments towards achieving the Agenda 2030 are implemented in a timely, efficient and effective manner, for the benefit of our people,” she said.

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The meeting was attended by, amongst others, presidential advisor: Youth Matters & Enterprise Development, Daisry Mathias and the National Youth Council (NYC) chairperson, Mandela Kapere.

Rights Groups Worried About The “Enslavement” of Youths In Eritrea, Months After End of Conflict

By Lionel Tarumbwa

Young Eritreans continue being forced into indefinite national service. Human rights groups and the UN continue to be worried that the government has no plan to end its conscription plan two decades after it started.

In March 11th, 2019 statement, international rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Eritrean government to roll out a timeline for the dismantling of the compulsory national service that has been conscripting young Eritreans since its seceding from Ethiopia in 1995.

It has been months since a peace deal was signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia ending two decades of conflict yet youths in Eritrea are still facing compulsory “national service.” This is despite the fact that Asmara promised the last recruits to national service that it would last no more than 18 months at the time of the signing of the peace agreement.

Although the initial pretext for conscription no longer exists, the statements that it will be disintegrated are probably only political rhetoric, says Fisseha Tekle, a human rights researcher on Eritrea and Ethiopia for Amnesty International.

“For the last 15 years, they were blaming Ethiopia. That excuse is no longer there, so it is high time for them to stop this scheme.”

Activists and human rights groups have condemned and compared the national service to “legislative slavery.” The recruits live under tough conditions, earning only a pittance (reported to be less than US$60 a month) and continue to be isolated from family and friends under inhumane conditions.

At its inception in 1995, the national duty was supposed to last no more than 18 months in an effort to rebuild the country after a 30-year conflict for independence. However, when a border dispute broke out with Ethiopia in 1998, Asmara introduced indefinite service with several recruits having been in the service for almost 20 years.

Eritrean teenagers in their last year of high school are transferred into a military camp before going straight into six months of military training after graduating high school. If one is lucky enough to score good enough grades, they might attend college and be given a civilian role. But the only way out is to leave the country. In its own report, Amnesty International quotes students who have come to view the education system as a trap that leads them straight to the jaws of a system to which there is no escape.

In its statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, HRW says, “Conscripts continue to be used for commercial projects, as well as military and civil duties. Their pay remains inadequate and reports of abuses, including torture, persist. This Council’s Commission of Inquiry labelled Eritrea’s national service “enslavement.”

It is not uncommon for several members of one family to be recruited all at once and posted to different parts of the country. The return of a member of a family may often feel like one is returning from the battlefront. The conscripts often spend months away from their family and there have been reports that most are denied official leave to visit their families. A special UN Commission of Inquiry report in June 2016 stated that “crimes against humanity have been committed in a widespread and systematic manner in Eritrean military training camps and other locations”.

Young Eritreans continue to leave the country, taking the treacherous journey, a trek through valleys of death, at the risk of being charged with treason if the escape bid fails. Hoards of them often find themselves on the shores of Libya in a bid to make the deadly and dangerous voyage through the Mediterranean. According to UN figures, as many as 5,000 Eritreans flee each year in search of greener pastures.

Image Credits: Madote

Source The African Exponent

Zimbabwean youths take part in kick-the-ball global peace event

By William Milasi

ZIMBABWEAN youths last Saturday took part in a “kick the international ball of peace”, a sports based global event held to emphasise the power of sport in fostering unity and building peace across physical, mental and emotional borders.

The event was organised under the auspices of Generations for Peace (GPF), a “peace-through-sport” organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee.

Various communities in the country participated in the international event.

The Jordan based non-profit making organisation has a history of using sports based games to empower youths to build peace and transform conflicts across tribes, religions, races, ethnicities and nationalities.

GPF engaged over 500 youths in nine countries with “Get the Ball rolling 2019,” an international series of football games that united diverse youths to celebrate International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP).

Seventeen simultaneous matches Saturday began across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

In Zimbabwe, the events took place in Harare, Zvishavane and Kwekwe.

Mark Clark, Generations for Peace CEO, said the event acts as a catharsis for youths who have been scarred by the effects of violence.

“Generations for Peace believe in the enormous potential of youth to lead positive change in their own communities and in the power of sport as a universal language to unite those who are faced with division and violent conflict every day.

“As part of our long-term programming in these communities, Get the Ball Rolling 2019 was an opportunity to reflect the values of Generations for Peace and to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in a truly global sense.

“Across nine countries and three continents, the simultaneous football games involved not just our trained pioneers, volunteers and participants, but also engaged local community members, demonstrating these values and encouraging anyone to build peace and pass it on,” he said in a statement from his Jordan base.

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is an annual day recognised by the UN and celebrated its sixth year on Saturday, 6th April 2019.

The day serves to raise awareness of the potential of sport to contribute to global objectives for development and peace due to its vast reach, unparallel popularity and foundation of positive values.

The organisation is founded and chaired by HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein and is dedicated to sustainable peace building and conflict transformation through sport, arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment.

Zimbabwe GFP Pioneer Ephraim Katongo said Zimbabwe has for a very long time experienced serious violence amongst the youths.

He added that the peace event help youths to deal with the country’s volatile situation.

“Zimbabwe has for many years faced challenges when it comes to social cohesion and transforming violent conflicts among youths.

“Get the Ball Rolling 2019 was a great opportunity to address to address those challenges and many others around the world, providing a safe space through sport where local youth could unite, crossing mental and emotional borders they face every day and recognizing that they are not alone. This event, like all Generations for Peace programmes, highlighted the power of youth to lead us toward a more peaceful feature, if we only provide with them with the opportunities and empowerment they need to do so,” he said.

In addition to its renowned Sport For Peace programming, the organisation also uses arts, advocacy, dialogue and empowerment tools, addressing challenges of gender inequality, post-conflict trauma response and reconciliation.

Source New Zimbabwe

Libya, UN discuss support of Libyan youth


By Xinhua


Officials of the Libyan office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Wednesday said it will boost plans to empower and support young women and men across Libya.

“We met on Monday with the Head of the Youth and Sports Authority Bashir Al-Qantari to agree on strategic plans for 2019 to empower and support young women and men across Libya,” UNFPA said in a statement.

UNFPA will soon launch a UN Youth Working Group in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the aim of creating a more effective youth programming, the statement said.

Due to years of armed conflict and political instability, Libyan authorities have been struggling to meet the needs of the young people, mainly by providing employment opportunities and proper education.

According to UNICEF, unemployment currently stands at 48 percent among youth in Libya.


Source Xinhua


Nigeria: Youth unemployment, Africa’s biggest problem – (UNEP – EBAFOSA)

The United Nations Environment Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (UNEP-EBAFOSA) has said the biggest problem Africa is facing today, especially Nigeria, is youth unemployment, which requires about 11 million jobs every year to engage the unemployed.


The regional coordinator, United Nations Environment Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), Dr. Richard Munang, stated this at the UNEP-EBAFOSA Nigeria policy harmonisation meeting for implementing the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP), and Climate Action, in Abuja, stressing that Nigeria presently huge unemployment via unfriendly policies.

Despite this reality, he regretted that Nigeria has continued to creating more unemployment by importing such items as tomato paste worth $360 million every year.

His words: “But at the same time, Nigeria is losing N9 billion every year as a result of post-harvest losses. Nigeria is importing tomato worth $360 million every year. That means Nigeria is importing unemployment to add on top of the unemployment that she got.”

On the importance of their engagement with other government ministries, agencies and parastatals, the UNEP regional coordinator said: “The importance of this policy harmonisation for climate action coordinated under the UN Environment Framework for Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly is actually to help Nigeria implement its climate obligations in such a way that opportunities can be created for the youth.

“If you look at Nigeria today, Nigeria is losing food as a result of post-harvest losses worth $9 billion every year. This is loss not just in food but also of incomes and opportunities, especially for youths; because, as we are speaking today, Nigeria needs to create 11 million jobs every year to be able to absolve unemployed youths in the country.

“But the question is, where do these jobs come from? They can come as a result of expanding the entire agro-value chain, which is the only area you can create job opportunities for youths.”

In the same vein, the president of EBAFOSA-Nigeria, Mr. James Oyesola, said the youth needed to be engaged now more than ever before amid rising unemployment.

He stated that youth unemployment rate in Nigeria has steadily been on the increase, rising from 9.8 per cent in 2008, to 13.41 per cent in 2017.

Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Oyesola pointed out that, out of 85.08 million people in the active workforce in Nigeria, 16 million were unemployed in most of 2017.

According to Oyesola, Nigeria has about 98.3 million hectares of arable land of which 72.2 million hectares are cultivable, which is about 23 per cent of arable land across all the West Africa.

He, however, regretted that only 34.2 million hectares was cultivated, with over 53 million Nigerians remain undernourished and majority of Nigerians (65 per cent) remain food insecure.


Source The Sun