Sunday, 17 January 2021

UN in your language

‘Investing in Youth’ to dominate the forthcoming African Union–EU Summit

The sound of an incoming smartphone call echoes through speakers at “The Office” event space in Rue d’Arlon, Brussels. Suddenly Keora and Thato, two African children, walk on stage and start a telephone conversation.. “So did you hear about the fifth African Union – European Union Summit”, asks Keora. “Yes I did, and I hope everybody in the room remembers to attend because some of them are a bit older”, responds Thato enthusiastically.

Keora and Thato are a metaphor for the upcoming Summit, which will focus on investing in youth for a sustainable future.  Ahead of the Summit, UNICEF and the European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), organized a special event at which young Africans were encouraged to have their say on the importance of education for their future.

On 29-30 November 2017, the fifth AU-EU Summit will take place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This is a defining year for the Africa-EU relations as it has been ten years since the adoption of the joint Africa-EU Strategy. For European and African leaders it will be a key moment and opportunity to strengthen political and economic ties between the two continents. Youth is the central theme and young people will be actively involved in the run-up to Abidjan. Around 60% of the African population is under the age of 25 which is why empowering youth will be a priority for both African and European leaders. Other important topics that will be discussed are security, human rights, migration, investment and job creation.

U-Reporters show slogans for African Youth Voices
U-Reporters show slogans ©UNRIC/RobbeVandegehuchte

Education is not always easy in emergency situations. Ahead of the summit, UNICEF carried out an opinion survey among young people living in fragile settings in West and Central Africa using U-Report, UNICEF's real-time mobile-messaging-technology tool. Today four million Youth U-Reporters are present in over 30 countries and more than 120,000 young Africans from Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria and Uganda took part in the survey and answered questions about the importance of education in times of conflict. The survey outcome was presented by the U-Reporters who will relay it to the African and European leaders attending the AU-EU Summit.

Event space in Rue d’Arlon, useed for African Youth Voices.
Event Space in Rue d’Arlon, Brussels ©UNRIC/RobbeVandegehuchte

EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management delivered a speech on conflict and how they often lead to a lack of access to education. “We cannot afford to lose a generation. No child can be left behind so funding has to continue. Innovative technology will reach more children and create access to education. Digital skills are crucial to be successful and all children deserve these opportunities. Their voices matter”.

According to UNICEF Nigeria Representative Mohamed Fall, “We have to transform problems into opportunities and children provide the solution”, pointing out that in Nigeria more than 10 million children do not attend school.


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