MOGADISHU ENVOI-02Nairobi, 7 October: In a bid to shed light on the plight of Somali youth, and emphasising the United Nations’ commitment and support to the Federal Government of Somalia, the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, has visited Mogadishu for a two-day mission.

Meetings with several senior government officials, including the Speaker of the Parliament and Acting President, the Prime Minister, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Education, Minister of Higher Education and Minister of Health, underscored the urgency of providing viable long-term alternatives for Somali youth.

“Investing in youth is a means to secure growth, social cohesion and a peaceful development trajectory for Somalia. State and peace-building goals will only be sustainable by engaging young people who make up two thirds of the population,” said Mr. Alhendawi, reiterating how the young population of Somalia, at a median age of 17.7 years old, is a resource for sustainable development.

While Somalia’s youthful population is an evident resource for the country, increasing rates of urbanization at a rate of 3.79% annually presents further opportunities for economic growth.

However, with unemployment among youth currently at 67%, specialized training for youth is critical to supplement much needed local economic development. Poverty leaves many Somali youth on the margins of society, fuelling conflict escalation with significant social costs.

Capitalizing on a period of relatively peaceful conditions in Mogadishu, there is currently a strong momentum to implement programs targeting youth and unemployment to counter other negative developments that may funnel insecurity.

“It is important to engage in youth in development as they are entrepreneurial and willing to take risks. Young people dare take initiative, and we must support them,” said Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Deputy Executive Director, UN Habitat, in a meeting with Mr. Alhendawi.

UN-Habitat, in longstanding relationship with the local administration of Benadir Region, has been successful in providing livelihoods and employment opportunities for vulnerable urban groups in Mogadishu that supports much needed reconstruction of urban infrastructure and basic services.

Further interventions in partnership with the Federal Government could help garner support for the state building process taking place in the country both domestically and internationally, investing in the country’s primary resource of Somali youth.

“Through my meetings with government officials and young people in Somalia, I have felt the determination of this generation to open a new chapter. I have witnessed the challenges first hand, but I am confident that the determination of youth and right investment in them will transform the country. Young people have the potential to become drivers for peace and stability,” stressed Mr. Alhendawi.

Mr. Alhendawi’s visit to Somalia reaffirmed the support of the United Nations to the Federal Government of Somalia in developing a National Youth Policy.

Read more about UN-Habitat in Somalia here