The West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), launched the Youth for Peace platform on Sunday 24 August, 2020, on the theme “Changing the Narrative” -Youth Contributions to National Development and the fight against COVID-19 Pandemic. This was realized through Virtual Zoom Meeting and lived on Facebook. The Youth for Peace Networks aim to support WANEP’s ongoing effort to promote and advance the Youth peace and Security agenda by fostering the contribution of young people towards the maintenance of lasting peace, security and development in Sierra Leone.
In her opening remarks during the launching ceremony, the National Network Coordinator (NNC) of WANEP, Dr. Isata Mahoi stated the objective of the platform, which according to her is to mobilized diverse Youth-led Organizations, youth activists and other organizations in the drive towards the promotion of peace and stability in the country. She further affirmed that young women and young men have a critical role in promoting and maintaining both national and international peace and security. This is in line with the thought that demographic importance of youth is an asset that can contribute to the establishment of lasting peace and economic prosperity, provided that mechanism such as youth platform is in place to contribute in realizing this broader national goal.
She however, lamented that the voice of youth has been muscled for a very long time by age limit and lack of effective policy instrument towards addressing their concerns. She affirmed that it is against this backdrop that WANEP, in line with the Security Council resolutions 2250 (2015) and 2419 (2018) on young people, peace and security that WANEP is establishing the Platform as a safe space for young people to brainstorm and proffer solution to peace and security challenges in the country. She reiterated that WANEP is also establishing the Youth 4 Peace Network in compliance with the above stated universal ideal to contribute in helping to mitigates the wide spread youth violence and youth marginalization in the country.
Dr. Mahoi further expressed the concern that some people have branded youth as people disturbing the peace of the nation and perpetrating violence across the country. She encouraged everyone to reframe from such negative statements and interpretation of young people. She however refuted such contrary perspective about youth that is being circulated around, and concluded by affirming that majority of youths are not violent, rather, they can – and do – play active roles as agents of positive and constructive change.
The Program Manager of WANEP, Madam Mariama Jusu Koiyia stated the specific goal of the Youth platform, which according to her is to create a platform for exchange and experience sharing between various youth actors on peace, security and development matters in their countries; coordinate and implement joint and concrete actions to propel forward the implementation of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda with a view to better involve young people in peace and security processes. She emphasized that this platform will play a pivotal role before, during and after every electoral process in the country. It will be recalled that in the past couple of months, lots of upraising by youths have been experienced across the country and tendency for a spill over will hinder the peace process of the country. This is why the setting of this platform will serve as a tool to put an end to such problems.