Southwest State youth attend community engagement workshop in Baidoa.

BAIDOA:– Youth representatives from across Southwest State of Somalia have converged in Baidoa to attend a one-day youth community engagement workshop supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to encourage youth participation in peacebuilding and community work.

The event was aimed at inspiring Southwest State youth to engage in decision making at district and regional levels during the elections, create awareness and encourage them to take an active role in development and peacebuilding. The event was graced by Southwest State Deputy Minister of Youth Aba Awoow Sufi as well as senior AMISOM officials.

Speaking during the event Deputy Minister Sufi said it was important to provide opportunities for the youth and provide a platform for them to come together and discuss their role in building peace and curbing violent extremism.

“The Ministry is here to support youth needs; the youth have a right to get a platform to discuss their needs. Some of the rights that youth have include to be discouraged from taking part in illegal immigration, from joining extremists’ groups. The youth also need job opportunities because if they are working they will not take part in extremist activities,” Deputy Minister Sufi said.

Fadil Karar, the Head of AMISOM Civilian sector team in Baidoa reiterated AMISOM’s commitment to supporting the youth in Southwest State so as to take advantage of available resources and opportunities, in order to build their capacity, especially in peacebuilding initiatives and national development.

“AMISOM as per its mandate is to support the youth of Southwest administration and also the ministry of youth and sports in community engagement and conducting activities that inspire and enhance the capacity of the youth, especially in their role to help develop their society,” said Fadil.

Aden Abdirahman Aden, the Chairman of Bay region Youth Organization saluted all the youth in Southwest State and hailed AMISOM for the support rendered in organizing the event.

“Today the youth exchange views on the achievements they have made and the challenges they face. It is an important day for us and we are grateful to AMISOM for their timely support,” Aden said.

As part of wider efforts aimed at improving health and promoting peace and reconciliation in the region, AMISOM recently handed over sports items to the Southwest State Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Somalia has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 80 per cent of the country’s 12 million people under 35 years of age. Somalia relies heavily on its youth to carry forward its reconstruction and recovery agenda.