By Kebba Jeffang
National Youth Council (NYC) together with various youth groups within the Greater Banjul Area on Wednesday, 12 August, 2015 commemorated the United Nations- International Youth Day (IYD) with a symposium held at the Semega Janneh Hall in Bundung.
The ceremony, which was characterised by a procession from Churchill Town to the hall, also witnessed a minute silence for THE missing lives in the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in Europe.
In his statement, Mr. Lamin Darboe, the Executive Director of NYC, said IYD is celebrated annually on August 12 to showcase the contributions of youth and youth led organisations towards the socio – economic, cultural and holistic human development of any nation but also appreciate the efforts and contributions of various duty bearers, donors and stakeholders in youth development. He said the day is also designed for a moment of supporting the empowerment and engagement of young people in national development.
Mr. Darboe said on this day young people around the world including the Gambia also demand from duty bearers the fulfilment of their rights to gainful employment, improved health service including sexual and reproductive health needs for adolescence and youth, access to quality and affordable quality technical, vocational training and education, recreational services, ICT among others.
He said “this year, the theme of the celebration is “Youth Civic Engagement”. Thus, in The Gambia, celebrations will take the form of nation-wide activism, engagements and dialogues with governance structures and policymakers on pertinent matters. But before going further I want us rise for a minute silence for youth who lost their lives both at home and across the Mediterranean Sea from last IYD to date.”
The NYC executive director said the world leaders are making big decisions this year about the most important issues the generation faces; how they will end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. He added that it’s down to young people to make sure they make big promises, and to ensure that these promises are kept for the present and future generations.
“We at National Youth Council and action/2015, one of the world’s largest civil society campaigns, are calling on the public to join us in their calls to ensure world leaders commit to a better world. At the UN General Assembly and unveiling of the Sustainable Development Goals in September this year, action/2015 movement will continue to mobilise the public in New York and across the world to remind leaders that we are watching and calling for ambitious goals for everyone,” Mr. Darboe said.
He said he wishes to request, on behalf of young people of the Gambia, from duty bearers, including the Government, Local government authorities, development partners and other stakeholders their support.
He said “Youth representation in the local government structures in the VDCS, WCDS, LGAS as required by the LGA Act be fulfilled and strengthen to be the true young people’s by age and interest group by extension national assembly in the interest of youth civic engagement, to establish and support the United Nations Youth delegate programme in the Gambia and youth in all relevant national delegation to the United Nations such as the UNGA, to support the Implementation of NAYCONF resolutions as clear and strong needs of young people in the Gambia, to look forward to a Youth specific outcome on the PAGE succession national blue print to channelled investment in youth and national youth policy and provision of sign language interpreter at GRTS to enable differently able youth access to information for their effective engagement in public dialogues and debates.”
Mr. Pa Suwareh Faye, Deputy Director, Department of Planning and Programmes under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said the NYC made no mistake in joining the rest of the world to mark this important day for the youths. He said the day is celebrated in order to recognise the issues and concerns of the young people around the world giving particular attention to the Gambia.
Mr. Faye noted that the Gambia government through the satellite institutions of the youth’s Ministry have been creating platforms to see the success of young people in the Gambia. He said the establishment of NEDI, PIA and NSC are indicators to the government’s contributions towards the realisation of youth’s goals.
“Another good thing is that the ministry has created youth farms in all the regions of the country in order for their increasing participation towards realising food security,” said the deputy planning and programmes director at the youth ministry.
He concluded by urgingh the young people to venture into sports and to be peace builders.