UN chief urges more efforts to address challenges faced by young people

April 28 2020

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to do more to address various challenges faced by young people who are encountering such problems as inadequate participation opportunities and exclusion from political decision-making.

"We must do more to address these challenges, guided by the findings of the Independent Progress Study on Youth Peace and Security," the UN chief told the virtual Security Council meeting on the Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Youth, Peace and Security on Monday, reported Xinhua news agency.

The secretary-general called on the international community to invest in young people's participation, organisations and initiatives.

"The Peacebuilding Fund is an invaluable tool, and I urge you to ensure it has the resources it needs," he said.

Guterres also said that "we must strengthen human rights protections and protect the civic space on which youth participation depends," adding that "we must emerge from the COVID-19 crisis with a determination to recover better -- massively increasing our investment in young people's capacities as we deliver the Sustainable Development Goals."

Noting that the world has been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, Guterres said that "young people are feeling the impact acutely, from lost jobs to family stress, mental health and other hardships."

"Over 1.54 billion children and youth are out-of-school," said the secretary-general. "Young refugees, displaced persons and others caught up in conflict or disaster now face even more vulnerability. Persons with disabilities may face new hindrances in access to the services and support to which they have a right."

Noting that young people were facing enormous challenges even before the current crisis, he said that one of every five young people was already not in education, training or employment.

"One of every four is affected by violence or conflict," he added. "And every year, 12 million girls become mothers while they themselves are still children."

"These frustrations and, frankly, failures to address them by those in power today, fuel declining confidence in political establishments and institutions," said the secretary-general.

The UN chief warned that "when such a cycle takes hold, it is all too easy for extremist groups to exploit the anger and despair, and the risk of radicalization climbs."

Despite these hurdles and risks, the UN chief said, young people are still finding ways to engage, support each other, and to demand and drive change.

"The world cannot afford a lost generation of youth, their lives set back by COVID-19 and their voices stifled by a lack of participation," he said.


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  • IANS