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UNHCR: First Afg-Pak youth empowerment session in Quetta

Quetta: UNHCR with partners organised a one-day seminar on youth empowerment to enhance the capacity of Pakistani and Afghan youthsin Balochistan by engaging them in dialogues with the key stakeholders to identify challenges youths are facing and to seek solutions towards self-reliance.

Over 100 participants from different districts of Balochistan attended the seminar, over 30 were women. The event was also attended by social activists, INGO’s, NGOS and youth working groups.

The seminar discussed the importance of the empowerment of youth as a tool to promote change, engage young leaders in a dialogue with key stakeholders and promote partnership and create a joint team in Balochistan to tackle these issues moving forward.

The keynote speaker, Ms. Raheela Durrani, Speaker of Balochistan Assembly,said: “Education and youth empowerment serve as the perfect impetus to energise the young people. We need to excite young minds, let’s make our youth empowered with education and skills.”

Recognising the important roles of youth in nation building, she said: “Youth need a voice and a platform to share their opinions and experiences, while enhancing their capabilities and competences in their chosen fields.”

A brief presentation was given by the UNHCR office explaining the participants its youth related activities in Balochistan. Under UNHCR programmes youth groupsin the refugee villages have been fully engaged in multi-sectorial community committees to strengthen the coordination mechanism and to build capacities that will further lead to active participation in decision making.

Head of UNHCR’s office in Quetta, Dinesh Shrestha said: “Youth play an important role in bringing peace and sustainable development in the region. This will only be possible if they are given opportunities and the right environment, enabled with skills and knowledge, guided with values to work together beyond the narrow confines of national borders. This seminar is a first step towards achieving those goals where both Pakistani and Afghan youths can come together to discuss their common interests and opinions, and prepare to become the agents of change in the society.”

A presentation by the Government of Balochistan youth affairs department focused on youth being its most potential and valuable asset and highlighted the establishment of youth development centre in Quetta with an estimated cost of Rs.24.6 million. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Youth Affairs. The centre will help to train the youth of Balochistan and includes a debating hall, accommodation facilities and a games room.

“UNHCR initiated a number of activities to support youth in the areas of education, health, social protection and livelihood under its regular as well as Refugee Affected and Hosting Area (RAHA) programmes and awarded UNHCR DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Programme) scholarship since 1992 which allowed more than 2,200 students to attend universities in Pakistan who became doctors, engineers and scientists,” Shrestha added.

The seminar was supported by the Government of Balochistan, UNWOMEN, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Innovative Development Organization (IDO), Water Environment and Sanitation Society (WESS), UNESCO and Pakistan Red Crescent (PRC).

Staff Reporter

Published in The Balochistan Point on September 22, 2016

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