UNICEF Partners with the Young Generation to Sustain Peace, Security and Development in Liberia

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Liberia, 15 January 2010 - Sixty young men and women are gathered today in Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa Counties to participate in a peace building and leadership skills training programme. The Ministry of Youth and Sports and Action Aid Liberia is organizing the two-week long training with support from UNICEF and the Peacebuilding Fund under the UN Joint Programme for Youth Empowerment and Employment.

The training programme is the beginning of a series of interventions of the pilot project on Youth Empowerment Services for Peace Building and Stability aimed at integrating young people into their communities and society by empowering them with skills to live a constructive and dignified life. It builds their resilience and reduces risks, particularly marginalisation and exclusion, through a human rights-based approach.

"Children and youth are Liberia's greatest assets in the quest for sustained peace, security and development," said Isabel Crowley, UNICEF Representative in Liberia. "The young generation has an abundance of energy and enthusiasm for change, and we need to work with them now to build the peaceful and prosperous Liberia of tomorrow."

The war subjected children and young people to intense physical and mental suffering, and also reduced their chances for a better future as adults. Thousands of this generation of Liberian youth between ages 15 to 35 does not have the basic education or the life skills to get employed or do something constructive on their own.

The training programme uses interactive and participatory techniques in building skills on self awareness, trust building, cooperation, information seeking, managing emotions, leadership, active listening and communication skills; and discussing concepts of human rights, causes of conflicts, nationalism and patriotism.

The 60 young men and women will come out of this training as peer educators, and help the government in training as many as 5000 young people from 12 districts in Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount.

"I feel fine being here. This is so exciting," said Nowai Freeman, a 27 year old woman participating in the training programme. "I want to learn as much as I can. I want to share with young and elderly people how to resolve conflicts in my village, and I'm hoping it will also help me."