Africa-Press – Uganda. Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Mr Workneh Gebeyehu has rallied for more youth engagement in decision making of their respective countries, especially at leadership level, in order to maintain and build peace in the region.
“As we speak now, young people constitute the majority of our population. Let us bear in mind that 9 out of 10 young people live in developing countries, in our region, 60 percent of our population is below 25 years of age. And yet because of their age, our norms and practices, young people have the least voice and lowest of political, economic and social influence, this is very undemocratic,” said IGAD executive secretary, Mr Workneh Gebeyehu.
Mr Gebeyehu made the remarks during the launch of the IGAD Youth Forum for Peace aimed at providing an avenue for effective youth participation in the regional development process on Thursday in Entebbe.
“It is therefore, self-evident that as the biggest stakeholders, the future belongs to the youth. As the older generation, we are simply stewards and custodians who have been entrusted with the duty of ensuring that our younger generations inherit the future they want,” he added.
Mr Gebeyehu said although youths are willing to make significant contribution to positive changes in their countries, they can be exploited to deliver negative outcomes for peace and security.
“In the Context of the high levels of youth unemployment and limited livelihood opportunities, young people are particularly vulnerable to being mobilized into destructive occupations such as ethnic and politically motivated violence, criminal enterprises and radicalisation into violent extremism” he said.
Mr Gebeyehu said in spite of tremendous strides in youth engagement, more needs to be done globally, regionally and at national levels to continue creating sufficient space for youth to have a decisive role in determining their future.
The IGAD peace and Security Division (PSD) Director Mr Siraj Fegessa said the Youth Forum for peace is a timely intervention that will provide a structured avenue through which youth can contribute to peace building in the region.
“Youths will receive education and training in conflict mitigation, response and resolution. The forum will serve as a normative, institutional and collaborative mechanism for the mobilization of youth towards peace in the IGAD region” he said.
The minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi while closing the launch said there is need to ensure youth have a stake in the economic growth of their country to ensure they have legitimate interest in its thriving peace and security agenda.
“Youths must be stakeholders in a country’s wealth creation and never spectators, they must be helped to have access to factors of production, especially skills and financial capital,” she said.