Diffa Youth Forum sends strong message for peace and reducing extremism
Young people play an important role in the promotion of peaceful societies. At the end of March, the Niger section of the Lake Chad Basin Youth Network held its first Youth Forum, with participants from rural communities and the city of Diffa.
With CMI’s support, on 30 – 31 March 2021, the Niger section of the Youth Network held its first Youth Forum in Diffa. “The contribution of local youth in mitigating the effects of the Boko Haram crisis” was the main theme of the event. Male and female participants came from the town of Diffa and twelve different rural communities in the region. Religious leaders, traditional chiefs, local authorities as well as a UNDP stabilisation expert were special guests at the Forum.
Young men and women constitute more than half of the population of the Lake Chad Basin region, and are among the most affected by the violence and abuse caused by the Boko Haram insurgency. The social stigmatisation and suspicion of being affiliated with the insurgents experienced by the youth have for a long time hindered their prospects in being engaged in efforts for stabilisation and positive development of the region.
The Youth Network of the Lake Chad Basin Region, with members from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, was founded in 2019. CMI has supported the initiative from the outset. The main goal of the network is to provide a transnational platform for youth to contribute to regional stabilisation efforts, strengthen collaboration with governmental actors and other stakeholders, and share the good practices of young people that strengthen local peacemaking. Many network members engage in initiatives for to prevent violent extremism and to promote social reintegration.
“To overcome the root causes of instability and mitigate the risks, young people need to unite around common ideals and practices in order to build a prosperous and peaceful future.”, said Habou Mahamoud, organiser of the Youth Forum at its opening session.
At the end of the forum, the participants issued a statement addressing several issues regarding the youth participation in peacebuilding. The key issues of concern include insecurity, the poor recruitment of young people for jobs and the low school enrolment rate of young people. The Youth Forum also made proposals for countering these obstacles. It called for “effective participation of young girls and boys in the peace and security building process is an effective measure to enable the youth (…) to play their full role”.