Young Nigerians inspire young Europeans to become agents of protection
9 to 10 June 2023, Strasbourg France – 8500 young participants gathered in Strasbourg for the 5th European Youth Event (EYE 2023), with even more participating online. The EU-UNODC STRIVE Juvenile team were among the 400 speakers and organized two interactive workshops on ‘Young people as agents to protect children from terrorism and violent extremism’.
Led by four young Nigerian peace activists - Abba, Precious, Solumtochukwu and Imrana - and Hannah, a UNODC expert in child rights and international law, these workshops were designed to amplify young people's voices for peace, while strengthening the STRIVE Juvenile #NextGen4Peace network and advancing the youth, peace and security agenda in Nigeria and Europe.
Abba Ali Yarima Mustapha is coordinating the awareness campaign for STRIVE Juvenile in North East Nigeria. Abba drew on first-hand experience of the challenges faced by his people in Maiduguri, Borno State and explained to participants that “Intra-community dialogue has the potential for increasing understanding of the dramatic fate of child victims of terrorist and extremist groups; and promoting their reintegration and rehabilitation within communities as a first step towards reconciliation of society as a whole”.
Young leaders and activists discussed how youth-led civil society and community-based organizations can play an important role in promoting national and international tools for peace and security; and protecting children from violence caused by terrorist and violent extremist groups at the local, national and international level. Imrana Alhaji Buba, founder of the Youth Initiative Against Terrorism reminded the groups of young participants "We are the digital natives of this age, we can use all the technological tools to improve cross-cultural understanding and make our two continents better",
Hannah Tiefengraber reflected on the challenges associated with this phenomenon and the way in which security and peace development agendas in the EU and Africa are intrinsically linked. She remarked that “EYE 2023 is a unique opportunity for STRIVE Juvenile to bring together African and European youth to develop ideas on strategic action towards the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of children formerly associated with terrorist groups”.
The workshops resulted in a series of recommendations. Participants joined STRIVE Juvenile in advocating for the establishment of platforms for dialogue with community leaders and representatives; mentoring sessions; outreach; and awareness-raising activities. These will be implemented as part of the youth-led activities under the STRIVE Juvenile awareness-raising campaign in order to build resilience and self-determination among children and communities affected by violent terrorist and extremist groups. As a member of the EU Youth Sounding Board in Nigeria, Precious Uchechi Eze emphasized that “the disruptive power of the younger generation of Euro-African peace-builders, should help the most vulnerable and excluded in society to participate meaningfully and give peace-building a chance.” As an expert on gender and human rights, Solumtochukwu Ozobulu Precious further highlighted the importance of mainstreaming gender considerations into all youth-led peace building processes.
When young people are actively involved in peace-building processes, without fear or threat, there is hope for lasting security and peace that is owned and led by children and communities. Participants agreed that together, we have a shared responsibility to ensure that children are protected from terrorist and extremist groups, and free from all forms of violence.
Create an alliance between EU-Nigerian #NextGen4Peace to enable young people to participate meaningfully and give peace-building a chance. Click here
Mobilize and inspire young European and global activists to promote a peace and security agenda. Click here
One UNODC Expert and Nigerian young peace activists will lead the EYE 2023 Workshop. Click here