If we do not use the energy of youth, the enemy will
HELMAND - In a televised debate in Helmand, panelists agreed that if young people are not given the means to participate in society they are at risk of being recruited by anti-government elements.
Baryali Helmand, a lecturer at Bost University, Ehsanullah Ehsan, the head of the student’s association at Helmand University, Ms. Sharifa, the representative of Helmand's Department of Women's Affairs, and Noor Ahmad, a lecturer at Helmand University were invited by UNAMA and Sabawoon TV to speak about the role of young people in the peace process, in front of an audience of 40 students from local universities.
“The energy young people have can easily be exploited, whether negatively or positively,” Mr Helmand said.
“In Afghanistan, where the majority of its population is young, we need to exploit youth’s energy in a positive manner, in particular in achieving peace," he stressed. "Youth should engage in the peace, policy making and decision making processes with the support of Government. If we do not use the energy of youth, the enemy will."
Helmand has been the scene of prolonged conflict for the last 15 years. The fighting has even reached the outskirts of the provincial capital, Lashkargah, in recent days. The province, which shares a border with Pakistan and is also close to the Iranian border, is known mainly for its poppy production.
Thousands of families from the province have abandoned their homes and fled to safer parts of the country. Those who have remained, including the students at university, face difficult living conditions.
One of the students, Nazila, said new tools, such as social media, can be useful in promoting peace, but ultimately education and understanding are key.
“Women’s role in the peace process is also very important because if they raise their children properly and teach them the virtues of peace, then they will not become insurgents,” she said.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.