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Dialogue and Mutual Understanding

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Brenda Yufeh

The UN Information Centre yesterday organised a discussion forum ahead of the International Youth Day and Year of Youth.

Through a debate, sketches and poems that focused on the theme of the celebration "Dialogue and Mutual Understanding", the United Nations Information Centre in Yaounde have begun activities to commemorate the International Youth Day. The event which took place yesterday at the centre also marked the launching of the International Year of Youth. The forum which grouped members from the different branches of the UN systems in Cameroon, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, representatives of youth associations as well as members of the civil society, created an opportunity for the government and partners to highlight, examine and re-examine what has been done to improve the situation of youths in Cameroon, in particular and world in general.

Chairing discussions, Alain Sibenaler, UN Resident Coordinator a.i who is also the UNFPA representative in Cameroon used the gathering to acknowledge and celebrate what youths can do to build a safer and more just world. While reading the UN Secretary General's message on the occasion of the International Youth Day, Alain Sibenaler said today's challenging social and economic environment warrants a special focus on youth, for 87 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 live in developing countries. According to Ban Ki-Moon's message, the global economic crisis has had a disproportionate impact on young people who have lost jobs, struggled to find even low-wage employment and seen access to education curtailed. "As economics slowly begin to stabilise, the needs of young people should be paramount," Ban Ki-Moon underlined.

That is why during the International Year of Youth, the UN and its youth organisation partners will focus on the need to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations, cultures and religions. The UN Secretary General recognises that older generations themselves stand to learn a great deal from the experiences and examples of young people as they come to age in a world of accelerating interconnections. As such the UN scribe has called on members States to increase their investments in young people so that they can do even more in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Through a presentation from a representative of the Ministry of Youths Affairs at the discussion forum, it was disclosed that the government is addressing the challenges of youths through a National Youth Policy.

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