Celebrations across Somalia mark Youth Day

15 May 2015

Celebrations across Somalia mark Youth Day

Baidoa/Kismayo/Mogadishu - Youth across Somalia turned up in large numbers to mark Somali Youth Day, an annual commemoration of the Somali Youth League (SYL), the country’s first political party. Founded in 1943, SYL was instrumental in the country’s struggle for independence.

In the capital, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud joined thousands of youth in a walk along the city’s streets, and laid a wreath of flowers in honour of independence heroes, at the Somali Youth League (SYL) monument in central Mogadishu.

Speaking to the youth, the President said: “The message I have for you today is to urge the youth to build their country. The country awaits no one else except you. You have to double your efforts. The youth who formed SYL 72 years ago sacrificed their life for the sake of the country to be independent and realize bigger dreams. I urge you to follow suit and work towards developing your country.”

More than 70 percent of Somalia’s population is under 30; as a result of the country’s conflict, Somalia’s youth face severe challenges including unemployment and a lack of education.

Separately, youth-led discussions were held in Baidoa, Kismayo and Mogadishu to commemorate the day and highlight the importance of young people’s participation in national and regional political dialogues and processes. The events in the three cities were supported by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the Federal Government, the Interim Jubba Administration (IJA) and the Interim South West Administration (ISWA).

At the Universal Guest House in Mogadishu, the Centre for Youth Development and Empowerment (CYED) organised a dialogue under the theme, ‘Today belongs to Somalia’s Youth’. The Director of Operations at CYED, Ahmed Osman Mohamed, emphasized the need to raise awareness among the youth so as to sensitize and encourage them to get more involved on national issues.

“The agenda we have here is for the role of the youth on Vision 2016, because we know that the youth is the biggest component in Vision 2016 and it goes without saying that their contribution to Vision 2016 is vital. So the objective of this is for the youth to understand their role in 2016 like federalism process, democratization process that will lead to elections in 2016, the review of the constitution and a lot of things,” he said Mohamed.

Abdirahman Omar Osman ‘Yarisow’, senior communications advisor to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and one of the panelists at the youth dialogue in Mogadishu, described the event as engaging and productive. “I was very pleased to see the debate, the discussions, the questions they raised was very valid on what the government is doing in terms of empowering the young people to ensure that elections take place; what kind of elections will be held and all that was debated and what was agreed as group of young people is to continue with the debate and discussion after the event,” he added.

In the southern port city of Kismayo, the event was officiated by the Deputy Leader of the IJA, Abdikadir Lugadere, who urged the youth to work hard and rebuild their country. “I appreciate the hard working youth in this region and congratulate all Somali youth who have taken the path of peace and stability. You are the future of Somalia,” he said.

In Baidoa, at least 300 youth converged at the Parliament premises of the ISWA, to celebrate the day. The colourful event was presided over by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Abdullahi Abdi Omar, who said: “We are so proud to celebrate this important day of Somali Youth Day in Baidoa. The SYL proved that given an opportunity, the youth can bring change. We urge the youth to seize the moment and take a cue from the SYL.”

Also present was the head of UNSOM’s Baidoa office, Vikram Parekh, who noted that Somalia’s youth have a significant role to play in their country’s socio-economic and political development.

“As Somalia strives to once again achieve political stability following more than two decades of conflict, it is more important than ever to understand and enhance the role of the country’s young people,” Parekh said.