The regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has today (Thursday) launched the IGAD youth forum to involve them in peacebuilding.
The youth forum was launched in Entebbe with the presence of participants from the 8 member states who include Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia under the objective of establishing a regional platform led by the youth in the region for the enhancement of peace, security, and stability in the region.
The IGAD member states also committed to developing a youth policy and establish the role of youth in peacebuilding in the IGAD region.
The Executive Secretary of IGAD, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said youth have the potentials that need to be tapped to achieve peace, security, and stability in the region.
“The region needs to harness the aptitude, zeal and disposition of our young people to demand accountability from the institutions of authority and allocate a significant role in the implementation, monitoring of the peace and security agenda,” said Dr. Gebeyehu.
The IGAD Director of Peace and Security and Division, Hon. Siraj Fegessa said sustainable peace in the region can only be achieved by involving the young population.
“We cannot talk about sustainable peace and development without the active involvement of youth, their participation and ownership,” said Fegessa.
He noted that the region, with active conflict in a number of countries, should equip the youth with the necessary skills and given the chance to own their affairs.
“If the young people are engaged and provided with the necessary skills and opportunities to own their affairs, they can effectively build peace and bridge the gaps in a society struggling with conflicts,” he said.
The State Minister of Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Kiyingi said at the launch that there should be a revolution in peace initiatives to focus on youth.
“We need to critically rethink our peace and security initiatives in the region so as to re-position young men and women as peace drivers,” said Mrs. Kiyingi.
The IGAD region has a predominantly young population with more than 60% of the population under the age of 25. Youth unemployment is very high, and youth are active both as perpetrators and victims of conflicts indicating the fast-changing trend in the political and economic importance of youth inclusion in all aspects of the society.
The IGAD Peace and Security strategy of 2021-2025 acknowledges that the youth play a critical role in peace and security of the region.