UN Says Iraq Youth Key to Future Reconciliation, as “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” Cross-Country Forum Makes Stop in Erbil
Erbil, 19 February 2017 – Youth are key to the future of coexistence in Iraq and reconciliation would be incomplete without their input into the process, the United Nations stressed at the itinerary youth forum “Iraq: Youth and Coexistence” which stopped in Erbil on Saturday, 18 February 2017 on the second of a series of cross-country events.
About 140 youth in the age group of 18-35 hailing from the governorates of Ninewa, Dohouk and Erbil participated in the Erbil leg of the forum, which was organized by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) with the collaboration of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association. The aim of the series of forums is to give a voice to youth for its crucial role in charting the road to peaceful co-existence in a future Iraq. It is also significant opportunity for the young generation of Iraqis across different backgrounds to deliberate post-conflict issues, engage on national reconciliation and voice their opinion.
The Erbil forum represented added value for including the displaced from Ninewa.
“This meeting carries deep significance, as it denotes fraternity among people in Iraq’s cities and regions, and it represents an important indication that the youth of Ninewa and its population, who have fallen under the cruelty of extremism and terrorism, actually have a desire to live in co-existence and peace,” said Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political and Electoral Affairs, Mr. György Busztin, in the opening remarks.
The significance of input from the youth, who constitute the majority of Iraq’s population, was stressed again.
“You are the future of this country and the ones who are responsible for formulating its image in the days to come, therefore, any initiative for reconciliation and coexistence should include your view points. Otherwise, such initiatives would be deficient.”
Mr. Busztin went on to present the significance of the participation of the youth in nation-building. As the beating heart, spirit and conscience of the nation, he added, youth are the guarantee for engendering and maintaining co-existence in this country.
The Erbil forum is the second of eight cross-country forums. The first was launched in Basra on 28 January 2017 and brought together about 120 participants from the four southern governorates of Basra, Missan, Dhi Qar and Muthanna. Other conferences are to follow in the governorates of Salaheddin, Najaf, Diyala, Kirkuk, Suleimaniyah and Baghdad, culminating in an overarching national conference in Baghdad in May to be attended by representatives of the youth to incorporate recommendations from these forums in the decisions that support the process of reconciliation and coexistence.
As with the format for all the conferences, the participants in the Erbil forum broke up into working groups to deliberate and respond to questions about what they would like to see in a future Iraq and how they can contribute. At the end of the meeting, the participants debated their responses and adopted a set of recommendations.