The United Nations is marking International Youth Day with an urgent call on the Government of Iraq to protect and empower young people, as a worsening security situation and limited employment prospects drive youth to seek a life outside the country.
“The global theme for International Youth Day in 2013 is ‘migration’,” explained Gyorgy Busztin, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq. “In Iraq, migration is often a symbol of lost hope, fear and desperation.”
In a 2009 National Youth Survey, almost 17% of young Iraqis surveyed said that they would like to emigrate. Mr. Busztin added that recent attacks targeting youth in cafes and football grounds are likely to increase fears of insecurity for yet another generation. “It is sad that many young Iraqis see a visa to emigrate as their best option for a better life,” he said.
Mr. Busztin expressed concern at young Iraqis’ futures. “The young are being pushed out of their homeland because of insecurity and lack of prospects,” he said. “If this generation flees, who will stay to build the country, to promote the tolerance and dialogue needed to achieve stability? Leaders must galvanize their efforts to reach political accord and create an enabling environment for peace.”
Addressing the issue of opportunities for youth in Iraq, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Jacqueline Badcock, said that progress was within reach. “In a middle-income country like Iraq, the Government has the means to create jobs and provide quality education,” she said.
“The recently devised National Youth Strategy demonstrates the will of the Government to act on these critical issues,” Ms. Badcock noted. “Now it is time to move urgently to the implementation phase.”