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In Youth Day message, Annan urges efforts to fight AIDS, cut unemployment

In Youth Day message, Annan urges efforts to fight AIDS, cut unemployment

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged governments to follow up on pledges made to address two of the most serious global challenges facing today's youth - AIDS and unemployment.

In a message marking International Youth Day, which is observed on 12 August, the Secretary-General noted that every minute, five people between the ages of 10 and 24 - the age bracket that accounts for at least one-third of all people living with HIV or AIDS - are infected with the disease. He encouraged governments to carry out the steps to which they agreed in June at the UN General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS.

Concerning the need for jobs, Mr. Annan pointed out that there are roughly 70 million unemployed young people around the world, with the 15-to-24 age group accounting for more than 40 per cent of the world's total unemployed.

The Secretary-General urged governments to support the Youth Employment Network - an initiative launched by the UN, the World Bank and the International Labour Organization to make proposals on employing young people.

"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation," Mr. Annan said. "Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished."

International Youth Day aims to promote awareness, especially among youth, of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. The World Programme of Action calls for measures in 10 priority areas: education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls and young women, and the participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making.