Iraq needs strategies to improve prospects for youth – UN envoy

Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert

17 July 2011 – The top United Nations envoy for Iraq has called on the country's authorities to develop a vision as well as strategies to improve the economic and social prospects for its young people, noting that a number of youth development indicators in a new report are of concern.

The Youth Status Analytical Report found high illiteracy and unemployment rates among the country's youth. Enrolment in secondary education is 21 per cent, while unemployment among youth between the ages of 15 and 29 is over 57 per cent.

In addition to education and employment, the report analyzes the needs of youth in the areas of health and disabilities, access to media and technology, sports, security, political and civil society participation, and poverty.

“Youth have legitimate concerns about employment opportunities, delivery of basic services and accountability,” Ad Melkert, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, said as the report was launched at a conference held yesterday in Baghdad.

Mr. Melkert, who is head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), called on Iraqi decision-makers “to listen to the needs of young people and respond to their legitimate demands and expectations.”

Stating that the report provides the Government with a “key planning tool,” he recommended three measures to help decision-makers move forward. The first is agreement on an “Agenda for the Future” with policy targets and timelines that will improve the economic and social prospects for young people.

The second is the establishment of a widely representative “Youth Dialogue Platform” with participants between 18 and 25 years of age for regular consultation with the Government and the Council of Representatives, or parliament.

In addition, he recommended that a “Jobs for Youth” programme be initiated that will on a month-by-month basis increase the number of young people provided with jobs, training or self-employment opportunities.

“Now it the time to bring civil society and the United Nations together within a coordinated platform to reach consensus on how the future of Iraq should look like through its youth,” said Mr. Melkert.

The report was compiled by the Baghdad and Al- Rafidain Universities in conjunction with the Ministry of Planning, with the assistance of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).


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