Ethiopia: AU Summit pressed for urgent action on refugee burden, youth radicalization

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – The African Union (AU) Summit would be called upon to address the plight of refugees fleeing hardships at home in search of jobs and the radicalization of the youth to reap the benefits of the youth, the main issue dominating debate at the High-Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which kicked off here Thursday.

The plight of thousands of young women and men fleeing the lack of jobs, drought, famine and war in parts of Africa and being forced to join the ranks of radical terror groups, dominated the discussions at the AU-organised meeting here.

The meeting is discussing how to assist the youth to steer clear of harm and to become part of a prosperous future in Africa. It will make recommendations for presentation to the African leaders' meeting here 3-4 July to discuss security, political, economic and social issues affecting the continent under the theme: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth: Empowering Young Women and Girls”.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said, addressing the plight of the African youth forced to migrate in search of jobs and livelihoods elsewhere was part of the main agenda for discussions when the African and European leaders hold their fifth regular Summit in November.

“Security and stability are critical fundamentals for any society to realize economic development,” the AU Chairperson said in the speech delivered on his behalf by the Deputy Chairperson Kwesi Quartey.

Mahamat said his concern for the adverse effects of war and conflict in Africa took him to refugee camps in conflict hotspots around Africa upon taking office, where he witnessed how refugees lived in poor conditions and underwent “unspeakable suffering”.

The AUC Chairperson regretted that conflicts have created unsafe conditions for the creation of jobs, making it difficult for countries to achieve vibrant economies to create gainful employment.

In May, the AU Chairperson visited Somalia, where he witnessed the appalling state of refugees and internally displaced persons affected by decades of war.

The AU has drawn a roadmap to the Demographic Dividend, which outlines measures that all countries and international organisations require to undertake to ensure the continent benefits from its youthful population, which is seen as critical to the powering of economic growth and development.

The new AU roadmap recognizes the needs for the revision of education curriculum to accommodate the requirements of industry so that the youth who receive an education could get access to gainful employment.

The AU Gender plan also calls for an end to harmful traditional practices such as early marriage for girls, lack of educational opportunities for the youth and improved participation of men in matters of reproductive healthcare and safe sex practices.

“Gender equality and empowerment cannot be achieved without the equal, full and effective participation of women and young people at all levels of decision-making,” Mahamat said.

The AUC President said it was true that Africa has continued to make significant strides in the pursuit for gender equality and empowerment of women in political sphere as well as in public and private sectors.

African policy-makers and high-level decision-makers have become increasingly sensitized to ensuring that women’s voices and contributions are heard and integrated into policy-making at national levels, Mahamat said.

The AU praised its member countries for making “demonstrable efforts” in progressively improving women’s representation in all arms of government.

The Commission President said the increasing degree of gender representation has and continues to lead to greater legitimacy of our governments and the quality of their decision-making.

“As this trend increases across our continent, we will live to be witnesses of the huge dividends of the empowerment and inclusion of women in civic affairs,” Mahamat said.

Meanwhile, the AU Deputy Chairperson said Africa would only benefit from its youthful population if measures were taken to limit the exclusion of the youth from key decision-making processes in the society.

“Africa has the benefit of having this demographic dividend. It is both an opportunity and a threat. A threat if we subject our youth to ethnic chauvinism and fail to harness their abilities and an opportunity if we harness their abilities to contribute to economic growth,” Quartey told delegates here.

Ministers in charge of women, gender and social services, women rights organisations and heads of international organisations are attending the High-Level Panel on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, 29-30 June, to draw an agenda for 29th session of the AU Heads of State Assembly.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 29June2017

29 june 2017 15:23:13

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