Youth’s role in building peace spotlighted in televised UN-backed debate
KANDAHAR - The advocacy role of young Afghans in working with government to fight corruption, promote women’s equality and bring about sustainable peace in the southern region was the focus of a UN-backed television programme in the province of Kandahar this week.
The programme, supported by the Kandahar regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and leading local media outlet Hewad TV, was set up to encourage young Afghans to participate in public life and help better define their responsibilities in working with local-level government and in their communities.
More than 30 university students attended the studio programme, which began with a debate by a three-member panel consisting of a civil society representative, a youth leader and a provincial council member from Kandahar.
The debate took place in Kandahar city, the capital of the mountainous and rural province that shares a rugged border with Pakistan to the south and east. Kandahar is central to the restive southern region that has played an important role in the growth of modern Afghanistan.
In the lively debate, panellists fielded questions from the studio audience and called on communities across the province to empower Afghan youth so they can play a more vital role in peace-building. They also called on the government to support youth with vocational programmes to enhance their opportunities for participating in the full spectrum of Afghan social and political life.
In opening remarks, Nisar Ahmad Saleh, the panel’s youth activist, noted that one of the primary causes for violence in the region is unemployment, and said that insurgents are fully aware of the issue and are actively exploiting it.
“The enemy has food in one hand and a gun in the other,” he said. “They know that our youth are jobless and would do anything to earn a living, which provides a great opportunity for insurgents to encourage youth to take up arms.”
Mr Saleh said that it is crucial that the government work to create more job opportunities for young Afghans. “A university degree will not solve the problem if the degree holder cannot get a job,” he said.
The studio programme was the fourteenth in a series of UN-backed TV debates on the role of youth in peace. An edited version of the pre-recorded debate was broadcast on Hewad television and radio following the event, reaching an audience estimated at 400,000 people in and around Kandahar.
UNAMA has been partnering with local media in the eastern region and in other areas of the country to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogue and discuss pressing issues affecting their communities.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.