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Youth, Security & Peace in Africa: youth leader panel offers insight, ideas
To better understand what the burgeoning youth population means for Africa’s future, AFRICOM hosted a panel of youth leaders in Stuttgart, Germany, to discuss ideas for engaging African youth as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.
Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, takes a question from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Ochen, a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Uganda, spent most of his life surrounded by war and uses his experiences for peace building and community development.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 1 of 6: Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, takes a question from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Ochen, a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Uganda, spent most of his life surrounded by war and uses his experiences for peace building and community development. Download full-resolution version
Panelists and audience members pose during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 2 of 6: Panelists and audience members pose during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Download full-resolution version
Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, introduces the Youth, Peace and Security panel guest speakers in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. The trio of speakers, whose accolades include Nobel Peace Prize nominations, advocate for developing African youth leaders to promote peace throughout the continent.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 3 of 6: Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, introduces the Youth, Peace and Security panel guest speakers in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. The trio of speakers, whose accolades include Nobel Peace Prize nominations, advocate for developing African youth leaders to promote peace throughout the continent. Download full-resolution version
Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, speaks during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Elman, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Somalia, spoke about incorporating youth into policy decisions and actions as a means to counter violent extremism and promote peace throughout the continent.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 4 of 6: Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, speaks during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Elman, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Somalia, spoke about incorporating youth into policy decisions and actions as a means to counter violent extremism and promote peace throughout the continent. Download full-resolution version
A trio of guest speakers (from left) Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, and Christian Achaleke, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, lead a discussion on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The event, hosted by U.S. Africa Command and coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019, to explore ideas for engaging African youth as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 5 of 6: A trio of guest speakers (from left) Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, and Christian Achaleke, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, lead a discussion on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The event, hosted by U.S. Africa Command and coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019, to explore ideas for engaging African youth as a means to promote peace throughout the continent. Download full-resolution version
Christian Achaleke (right), Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, takes questions from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Achaleke, of Cameroon, draws on his experience working in prisons for the deradicalization and reintegration of violent extremists as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.
6 photos: Youth, Peace & Security panel
Photo 6 of 6: Christian Achaleke (right), Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, takes questions from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Achaleke, of Cameroon, draws on his experience working in prisons for the deradicalization and reintegration of violent extremists as a means to promote peace throughout the continent. Download full-resolution version
Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, takes a question from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Ochen, a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Uganda, spent most of his life surrounded by war and uses his experiences for peace building and community development.
Panelists and audience members pose during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019.
Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy to the commander for military operations, U.S. Africa Command, introduces the Youth, Peace and Security panel guest speakers in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. The trio of speakers, whose accolades include Nobel Peace Prize nominations, advocate for developing African youth leaders to promote peace throughout the continent.
Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, speaks during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Elman, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Somalia, spoke about incorporating youth into policy decisions and actions as a means to counter violent extremism and promote peace throughout the continent.
A trio of guest speakers (from left) Ilwad Elman, director of programs and development for the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia, Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice, and Christian Achaleke, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, lead a discussion on Youth, Peace and Security in Africa. The event, hosted by U.S. Africa Command and coordinated by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019, to explore ideas for engaging African youth as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.
Christian Achaleke (right), Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, takes questions from the audience during a Youth, Peace and Security in Africa dialogue held in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019. Achaleke, of Cameroon, draws on his experience working in prisons for the deradicalization and reintegration of violent extremists as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.

“The youth population will more than double by 2050. There will be approximately one billion young people in Africa,” said Sheila Roquitte, deputy development advisor, U.S. Africa Command. “Everyone in the world wants the same thing. We all want security; we all want education for our kids; we all need healthcare. We all need the same basic things, and in Africa it’s no different.”

To better understand what the burgeoning youth population means for Africa’s future, AFRICOM, in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development, hosted a panel of youth leaders in Stuttgart, Germany, Oct. 15, 2019, to discuss ideas for engaging African youth as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.

During their visit, the three youth leaders representing Somalia, Cameroon and Uganda offered their experience and efforts in engaging African youth with employees from AFRICOM during morning and afternoon panel discussions. Meetings were also held with senior leaders from the Command to share how they are working on preventing conflict in their countries and dealing with issues of deradicalization, reintegration, and rehabilitation.

Part of the conversation involved current and future demographic projections in Africa.

“In my country alone, 78 percent of the population is under the age of 30,” said Ilwad Elman, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Somalia. “And 56 percent of that is under the age of 15. The opportunity exists for governments to engage young people, because the majority are peaceful and want to be part of the process.”

Panelists noted that there is a general perception amongst youth that their voices are not heard in political and governing processes. Elman indicated that the biggest threat to stability in Africa is the systematic exclusion of youth because if they feel they are not heard, they will use other channels to register their dissent.

“Some of the things that came out of the discussions were how violent extremist organizations understand what the youth want – and need – and when nobody else is able to provide that then they will look to alternatives,” said Roquitte.

“It’s part of what we’re trying to do with AFRICOM’s training of local security forces, through the State Department’s interaction at the national policy level and what USAID does on development on the community and national level,” said Michael McCabe, youth coordinator, USAID. “The majority of young people in Africa are intensely interested in being partners in their community’s development, partners in building peaceful solutions in their countries.”

Victor Ochen, United Nations Global Goals Ambassador for Peace and Justice and 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Uganda, spoke about helping youth overcome the traumas of war and organize youth programs with the goal of making wars less common in Africa.

“Let us practice development, let us practice democracy where we can vote our way to power,” Ochen said. “Not kill our way to power, that’s not a goal for this generation.”

Panelists urged AFRICOM to see youth as positive agents for change and not only as potential perpetrators or victims.

“We have been able to listen to young people, get close to them,” said Christian Achaleke, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network – Africa coordinator, on his time working in prisons in Cameroon to deradicalize and reintegrate violent extremists as a means to promote peace throughout the continent.

The key messages were well received by AFRICOM leadership and staff, Roquitte said.

“With youth as the majority of the population, and if AFRICOM wants to achieve a stable, peaceful and prosperous Africa, the best return on investment will be through engaging youth,” Roquitte said. “This is just the first step in the process.”

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