Findings released on southern youth

31 March 2011 – Several Southern Sudanese governmental bodies organized a half-day seminar today to present a 12-month study revealing various problems facing the region's youth.

Poor education and insufficient health facilities were among obstacles they encountered, according to the research, which also noted that 72 per cent of the southern population was less than 30 years old.

One of the organizers, Population Council Researcher Natalie Forcier, said youth were always at the forefront of violence or the focal point of peace building.

Also presenting the study were representatives of the GoSS Ministry of Health and the Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCSSE).

Addressing the gathering, Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Vice-President Dr Riek Machar Teny said young people were the engine for change and development.

"When we created the Sudan people's Liberation Movement/Army, we used the youth as an engine for change," Dr. Machar said. "Without them we wouldn't have done it."

The Vice-President added that youth should establish unions through which they can voice their concerns to the government.

Makwang Teng Youk, GoSS Minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation, said his ministry was working hard to empower youth to effectively harness their resourcefulness, energy and enthusiasm.

"Participation of the youth in sports will not only reduce the likelihood of diseases, but it also serves as an effective tool for youth mobilization against social vices such as drug abuse and theft," he said.

Parents were too busy to support children on ethical and emotional matters, leaving them vulnerable to negative peer pressures, said participant Asantewaa Eriyani Loliong, a consultant at Hospitality Solutions.

Ms. Forcier said the research was documented according to publications like the Southern Sudan Health and Household Survey (2006), the fifth Sudan Population and Housing Census (2008) and the National Health Household Survey (2009).