By Ahimbisibwe Flavia
The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), H.E Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu has called on the member states to increase youth inclusion in peace building.
Dr. Gebeyehu made the appeal on Thursday during the launch of the IGAD Youth Forum for Peace under the theme: “Youth as Peace Drivers”.
The launch occasioned at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe city had youth representatives, Government officials including Ministers and other dignitaries from the IGAD region.
The objective of the forum is to establish a regional platform led by the Youth in the IGAD region for the enhancement of peace, security, and stability in the region. IGAD is to also develop a youth policy and establish the role of youth in peace building in the IGAD region.
Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said time is ripe to increase youth involvement into the initiatives that promote, build and consolidate peace.
“In spite of tremendous strides made in youth engagement at the regional, global and country levels, more still needs to be done to continue creating sufficient space for our young people to have a decisive role in determining their destiny,” he said.
Adding: “As we speak, young people constitute the majority of our population. Let us bear in mind that that 9 out of every 10 young people live in developing countries, and in our IGAD region, 60% of our population is below 25 years of age. This means that the oldest among them was born in 1996, at the same time when IGAD was being re-established under a new agreement.”
He noted that youth have been undemocratically represented in economic, political and social spheres.
“And yet, because of their age, our norms and practices, young people have the least voice and lowest levels of political, economic and social influence. This in a word, is very undemocratic,” he said.
The Uganda’s State Minister of Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Kiyingi re-echoed the IGAD Chief saying that there should be an increase in peace initiatives to accommodate the 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 Kiyingi.
The conference also registered the presence of The IGAD Director of Peace and Security and Division, Siraj Fegessa who said youths should be engaged in all the sectors of the economy to keep positive and aim for a sustainable peace.
“We cannot talk about sustainable peace and development without the active involvement of youth, their participation and ownership,” said Fegessa.
By Ahimbisibwe Flavia