January 10, 2011 Leave a comment
By the Youth Bridge Foundation and the African Youth and Governance (AYG) Conference
‘It is only by being committed to peace that we can give a chance to the youth of today and future generations to thrive and allow the African people to enjoy dignified life experiences.’ – Dr. N’Dri Thérèse Assié-Lumumba, Professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Ivorian, Daughter of Africa and Patron of YBF
Youth Bridge Foundation and the African Youth and Governance (AYG) Conference is deeply worried about the ongoing post-election conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. YBF and AYG are particularly concerned about the tensed political climate and resultant violence in Côte d’Ivoire with the youth as both perpetrators and victims of the violence.
On the platform of the African Youth and Governance (AYG) Conference- Accra 2009 and again in August 2010, Youth Bridge Foundation and the entire AYG-Conference Community questioned whether the ever increasing youthful population of Africa, currently estimated at 60 per cent of the continent’s total population presents a potential threat to stability or potential resource for development.
We agreed that for the youth to be a blessing rather than a curse to the continent, a lot depends on the actions African Governments, politicians, the International Community and the citizenry of Africa take or purposefully refuse to take today to prepare the youth for the future.
Regrettably, the Côte d’Ivoire debacle suggests that we are yet to learn the lessons of the past and failing to provide the right leadership to steer the youth of Africa away from violence and destruction. It was not long ago that Kenya suffered similarly civil strife leading to the death of over a 1,000 people mostly young Africans and causing severe disruptions to the economy of Kenya and neighbouring African countries.
Some compelling facts and figures from Sir John Holmes (UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs) in report to the UN Security Council on the electoral conflict in Kenya (2007) is worth recalling in this context. He reported that:
- Over 73 per cent of the assault in Kenya was carried out by youth aged 14-29 years.
- Economy: (a) The Kenyan State lost US$1.3 Billion (just on production);
- (b)Tax Revenue: 3-days after the election, the business community lost 2 Billion Shilling (equiv to US$30.42 Million) worth of taxes daily due to the unrest.
- Ripple effect of Kenyan’s conflict on Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda was devastating.
- Tanzania: Rely on Kenyan’s Ports for transportation of over 90 per cent their daily consumables.
- Uganda: with over 80 per cent of Uganda’s imports passing through the Port of Mombasa, Uganda revenue authority reported daily income losses of up to US$600,000.
- Burundi: Commercial trade and humanitarian assistance to Burundi rely solely on Kenyan ports.
Having crossed over to New Year 2011, the Youth Bridge Foundation and the African Youth and Governance Conference Community remain:
CONVINCED that Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population (60 per cent of the continent’s population) and that through their productive participation and positive mobilization, Africans can surmount the continent’s many challenges;
ALARMED by the continuous loss of lives violently and slowly due to lack or inadequacy of medical services, and high sense of insecurity which disproportionately affects the vulnerable (women and children) in Côte d’Ivoire;
NOTE that the protection of lives and access to food and shelter is every Ivorian’s human right;
RESPONDING to the recent charge to African youth, at African Youth and Governance Conference (Accra 2010), as contained in the Communiqué, to resist any form of political or social negative mobilization that contribute to the problems of the African continent rather than solutions;
THEREFORE APPEAL TO:
Young People of Côte d’Ivoire:
- To be reminded that they have the responsibility to steer Côte d’Ivoire into stability;
- To remain calm in the light of all the efforts at negotiation and diplomatic talks;
- To demonstrate that they have a land to cherish, a future to protect, a challenge to overcome but a commitment to build the future today;
- Not to take up arms and allow themselves to be used for violence;
Youth wings of the two contending political parties particularly the Young Patriots:
Embrace the above appeal and give peace a chance.
All Stakeholders (ECOWAS, AU, International):
Not to give up too quickly on peace without compromising the principles of free and fair elections.
Youth Bridge Foundation
African Youth and Governance Conference Initiative
Websites:www.aygconference.org / http://www.youthbridgefoundation.net
Tel.: +233-302- 938999 / +233-24-3229505