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|BFF-UNHCR Ends Youth Re-integration & Dev. Camp|
|Published on June 26, 2008||Email To Friend Print Version
A United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sponsored initiative organized by Better Future Foundation (BFF) to re-integrate war affected youth of Liberia took place this week in the concession city of Harbel, Margibi County, Liberia. About one hundred youth leaders representing Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Margibi counties benefited from the initiative.
Giving keynote speech at the opening program of the three-day youth leadership camp, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) of the United Nations for Recovery and Governance (R&G) Amb. Jordan Ryan challenged Liberian youth to stand up to the challenges of postwar reconstruction and sustenance of peace in Liberia. Mr. Ryan identified unemployment and lack of skills as major obstacles impeding youth development in Liberia. “This is why Liberian youth have a major challenge to play a positive role in peace building and being instrumental in seeking a peaceful solution to issues that may arise without resorting to violence. This calls for more responsible conduct that espouses self-esteem, discipline and an ability to mobilize for a behavioral change among all ranks of the youth of this country.
“It is in this context that the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) recognizes the great intervention by the Better Future Foundation (BFF) with its structure and network which aims to work for Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB), and to strengthen relationships and at the same time encourage development among the youth in order to seek and share many common experiences,” Amb. Ryan noted. His speech was read by Mr. Paul Mukassa Ssali.
Also speaking at the Opening Program, the Solicitor General of Liberia Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe told the youth that one’s conduct among peer group at early age largely makes who one is tomorrow and cited several current cabinet ministers who were student leaders. “This simply means if you work hard today, there is higher percentage that you will be successful tomorrow,” Cllr. Gongloe noted.
He observed that in Liberia today most crimes are committed by young people below the age of 40 years. “But those of you who contribute to sustaining peace will not wish to break the same peace,” he noted and concluded by admonishing the youth to continue the good work and applauded the efforts of BFF youth re-integration and development initiative.
During an interactive panel discussion session on concession, the YBB youth identified unfriendly relationships between concession companies and host communities, lack of consultation in process of concession agreements, and unavailability of concession agreements to public as some of the problems.
The youth noted lack of social and education benefits such as construction of public facilities and provision of scholarships, transfer of technology and professional exchange programs, and the last two have resulted to community views not being given consideration, and to lack of knowledge about responsibilities of the communities to the company and that of the company to the host community respectively.
The Closing Program was climaxed by induction of YBB-Margibi Executive Council and dedication of the YBB Information Center officiated by Margibi County Superintendent Hon. Levi Piah. Resource personnel from ActionAid Liberia and the Environmental Protection Agency also conducted technical sessions on HIV/AIDS, Youth & Conflict, and the Environment, respectively during the camping programs. A technical session was conducted by BFF with institutional and community-based representatives as a networking process towards sharing good practices and endorsing and validating the concept of YBB as good and replicable practice in youth work nationally and internationally under the ongoing CESIE-European Commission Youth In Action Program.
In closing remarks, BFF President Rev. Augustine Arkoi thanked UNMIL for providing technical support and called for continued collaboration and assistance from UNMIL under the UN Peacebuilding Fund to complete the project of the YBB national structure and network.
Rev. Arkoi also thanked all those who contributed to the success of the project, among them the principal sponsor of the YBB Cluster One Project, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and all institutions that supported the project including ActionAid –Liberia, ZOA Refugee Care Liberia, UNMIL Civil Affairs Section, the European Union Youth in Action Programme, and CESIE, and our host Harbel Multilateral High School.
Better Future Foundation is a local non profit NGO with chapter in the United States that initiates programs and activities aimed at promoting socio-economic, educational and cultural understanding and cooperation, and is dedicated to rebuilding the shattered lives of Liberians after 14 years of armed conflict by promoting education, reconciliation, and reconstruction.