‘Empowering youth will mitigate unemployment, violent extremism’

The Youth, Peace and Security Programme Officer in charge of Y-TEaM, Josiane Sombo, has observed that empowering the youth was one of the strategies to mitigate the challenges such as unemployment and violent extremism.

“It is an opportunity if we are able to invest in our youth by providing them with knowledge and skills development towards regional peace, stability, harmony and cohesion,” she noted.

Mrs Sombo stressed on the need to equip the youth with continuous capacity building to enhance their leadership, knowledge, abilities, skills, and action for peacebuilding processes to enable them to effectively and efficiently contribute to ongoing efforts towards regional peace, stability, growth and development.

She was speaking on the sidelines of the launch ofa programme to equip 30 youth in West Africa to benefit from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), a leading regional peacebuilding organisation’s Transformational Empowerment and Mentorship (Y-TEaM) workshop.

The nine-month programme, a new component of WANEP’s Youth, Peace and Security designed to groom new generation of youth leaders and peacebuilders capable of driving transformational change and sustainable peace in their countries.

It is an annual programme, targeting fresh graduates across West Africa, between the ages of 18 and 35 with determination, dedication and commitment to peace, security, stability, governance, and development.

The Y-TEaM programme is being implemented under the framework of WANEP’s partnership with Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU).

Mrs Sombo cautioned that youth population, consisting of more than 60 per cent of Africa’s population, presented an opportunity and challenge which should not be taken for granted.

Dr Vincent Azumah, Regional Coordinator for Monitoring and Evaluation, WANEP, explained that the programme was one of WANEP’s creative ways of harnessing potential of the youth to ensure the youth were empowered enough and discouraged from negative activities in the region.

Queeneth Tawo, Regional Coordinator, Women, Peace and Security, WANEP, indicated that the youth, susceptible to violence were often used by politicians to orchestrate election violence, other fraudulent acts, victims of radicalisation by terrorist groups and suicide bombers.

Kennedy Barsisa, Head of Division, Youth, Sports and Employment, Department of Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS, underscored the need for holistic approaches to ensure conflicts with their devastating socio-political impacts were maligned.

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