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UN officials urge youth to fight against violent extremism

UN officials urge youth to fight against violent extremism

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes delivers a speech at a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 20, 2016. United Nation officials on Thursday called on young people around the world to stand against violent extremism as terror groups like the Islamic State are increasingly targeting the youth. (Xinhua/He Canling)

ISTANBUL, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- United Nation officials on Thursday called on young people around the world to stand against violent extremism as terror groups like the Islamic State are increasingly targeting the youth.

As part of the changing world, "the youth must be actively engaged in shaping lasting peace, contributing to mediation and reconciliation," said the high representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on the role of youth in preventing and countering violent extremism, Al-Nasser stressed that "peaceful and inclusive" societies can only be sustainably built with strong participation and commitment of the youth.

"Meaningful participation of youth is needed in achieving peace more than ever before," he said, particularly at a time when conflicts and chaos are spreading across the Middle East and North Africa.

Participants from 35 countries discussed the means to empower the youth to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations.

Some young people, in their pursuit of an identity and a role in society, have been attracted by the Islamic State and other extremist groups, noted Al-Nasser.

Disengagement, exclusion and marginalization are leaving young people vulnerable to the recruitment of terror groups, he said.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Cihan Sultanoglu listed access to decision-making process, education and a decent job as crucial factors that would empower the youth against violent extremism.

In the opinion of Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tugrul Turkes, a political and administrative approach should be adopted to enable the youth to raise their voices in each and every platform.

He emphasized the importance of improving intercultural relations and promoting a culture of peace among the youth for an effective struggle against extremism.

In addition, UN officials have urged local communities and non-governmental actors to develop strategies to help address conflicts in a non-violent way while promoting tolerance and peace.

Youth Solidarity Fund and Young Peacebuilders in West Africa were cited as examples of youth-led programs developed under the UNAOC umbrella to raise awareness about the danger of sectarianism, extremism and radicalization.

Established in 2008, the Youth Solidarity Fund provides direct funding to outstanding projects that promote the youth's participation in and contribution to intercultural and interfaith dialogue.

Young Peacebuilders in West Africa, guided by the principle that youth are key actors to achieve peace, is an educational program that enhances the ability of young people to foster mutual respect, understanding and long-term positive relationships between peoples of different cultures and religions.

UNAOC officials said that the programs were developed in a way that could be replicated in other regions around the world.

[ Editor: meng ]

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