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UN chief asks leaders to avail opportunities to youth

Authors: Emmanuel Akile | Christine Nyalel | Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Youth play dominoes and cards somewhere in Juba | Credit | Unknown

The United Nations Secretary-General is calling on leaders on International Youth Day to avail opportunities for young people to participate and contribute to nation-building.

António Guterres says when engaged,young people  can shape the future of their countries through civic engagement, environmental conservation, peacebuilding, among others.

Young people in South Sudan have complained of the inability of the government to engage them in meaningful activities.

They say there continues to be a lack of political inclusion and economic empowerment for young people in South Sudan since 2005.

Those who spoke to Eye Radio say the youths are mostly driven into cattle keeping and given guns to advance the interest of politicians.

They also argue that the government has failed to provide better education and health systems that would support their growth in the country.

It is believed that the youth – who are under the age of 29 – make up 70% of South Sudan’s population.

UNESCO notes that due to the atmosphere of conflict, political and economic instability, young people lack employment opportunities.

According to the South Sudan State of Adolescents and Youth Report released last year, 90% of the young people do not have formal employment due to lack of a vibrant private sector opportunity in agriculture, tourism and natural resources.

As the world marks the International Youth Day on Wednesday, some young people at the UN Protection of Civilian site in Juba want the government to improve the security situation in the country.

They say this could allow most of them to engage in agriculture and economic activities.

“There are no proper empowerment programs for youth. The country does not even have a good health care system. And there is no security so that young people could open up their businesses and move freely anywhere in the states,” said a young man at POC 1 Juba.

A lady at Rock City in Juba asserted that:

“We have not actually enjoyed the dividends of peace. There are no institutions for training young people so that we get the skills to support ourselves and the economy of the country.”

The UN notes that neglect, violence, exploitation, armed conflicts, inequality, corruption, poverty are the major factors preventing young people from reaching their full potential.

They also include harmful traditions, human trafficking, emigration, drug addiction, environmental degradation, trafficking as well as diseases and epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, and now the coronavirus.

It is the role of the government to provide opportunities for young people to explore their potentials, according to the UN chief.

António Guterres emphasized investing far more in young people through inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives. 

“I call on leaders and adults everywhere to do everything possible to enable the world’s youth to enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity and contribute to the fullest of their great potential,” Guterres stated in his speech on the occasion of the International Youth Day.

This year’s International Youth Day was celebrated under the theme: “Youth Engagement for Global Action”. 

The day was first declared in 1999 by the United Nations.

It gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. 

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