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Global help needed to curb youth unemployment in Africa, Tanzania says at UN

Global help needed to curb youth unemployment in Africa, Tanzania says at UN

President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania
Tanzania’s President called for global assistance in the “gigantic task” of generating employment for African youth at the General Assembly today, warning that the problem can serve to perpetuate conflict on the conflict.

In Africa, youth account for 37 per cent of the working-age population, but are also 60 per cent of the continent’s unemployed, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

In some countries in Africa, which has the fastest-growing and most youthful population in the world, the unemployment rate of young people has even reached 80 per cent, he added.

But the expansion of the labour market has not kept pace with the rate of entry of young Africans into the job market, Mr. Kikwete warned.

Youth unemployment has consequences that extend beyond the economy, he said.

“We have seen how some youths with no job prospects and little hope of getting any have become the petrol to raging tires of conflict,” the Tanzanian leader said. “They easily fall prey to war lords, criminal gangs and political manipulators to the detriment of peace and stability in their countries.”

Africa alone cannot solve the problem of youth unemployment alone, he emphasized, calling for the international community’s support.

Mr. Kikwete also noted that it is a “matter of great comfort and pride” that most of the continent exists in peace.

Burundi, Tanzania’s neighbour, has achieved peace after years of civil war, facilitating the return of many refugees from Tanzania.

His country, Mr. Kikwete said, has agreed to grant those who remain in Tanzania citizenship, calling for the support of the United Nations to move the refugees out of camps and resettle them across the country.

Also addressing African security at the Assembly today was another of Tanzania’s neighbours, Rwanda.

The Great Lakes region, said President Paul Kagame, “has its share of peace and security problems, but we continue to make significant progress in fundamentally addressing this question.”

Leaders in the area, he said, recognize that “most crucially, home-grown solutions, beginning with a joint regional effort, can bring about sustainable.”

He pointed to Rwanda’s joint military offensive with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) launched earlier this year against “the root cause of instability in our area”: the notorious ethnic Hutu militia known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR).

Security across the Great Lakes region was also featured in the address by Zambia’s President Rupiah Bwezani Banda, who described the region today “as more stable and peaceful than it has ever been in the last 15 years, albeit with challenges.

“The improved relations between the DRC and Rwanda and their joint efforts to tackle the problem of negative forces in the eastern DRC has opened up opportunities for achieving sustainable peace and stability in the region,” Mr. Banda said.

He warned, however, that the region still faced threats on several fronts: the FDLR and associated groups, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and another armed group known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Mr. Banda said sustained international pressure is required to bring LRA leader Joseph Kony – who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges – to the negotiating table and to provide greater protection to civilians in the DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) from further deadly attacks by the LRA.