Aweil youth say unemployment makes them engage in criminality

Youth in Aweil are blaming the government and society for their high levels of unemployment and for not being allowed to participate sufficiently in peace building and conflict mitigation. Such discouraging circumstances, some of them say, make a significant number of them choose to live on the wrong side of the law.

A lack of education and employment opportunities have pushed some of our youth to engage in criminal activities, explains Garang Matet Kuol, who is attending a one-day training, targeting youngsters, on peace and reconciliation, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

The youthful 30-year-old trainee at the African Inland Church Evangelical Support Organization says that most young people in the Aweil area are unable to pursue higher education because their parents and the government are not supporting them financially. She believes that the dire situation thus created make some of them clash with the law.

But is that so? Kohita Abuk Garang begs to differ. She blames the youth of having their minds set on committing crime.

Youth in Aweil cannot think positively, says the 21-year-old workshop participant. They get involved in criminal activities, which is not good.

Youth activist Peter Ngong says several attempts by Aweil youngsters to engage in conflict mitigation and peacebuilding have not been welcome by local authorities.

The ongoing peace process in Addis, youth are not given a chance to participate and to voice their concerns, says Ngong, adding that such exclusion is the biggest challenge for young people across the country. Instead of being listened to, Ngong claims, South Sudanese youth are being manipulated by politicians to serve their interests.

Politicians go to their constituencies, mobilize the youth and take them to the frontlines. They are only used to fight [for the causes of politicians].

The training, attracting a total of twenty young men and women, aimed at building the capacity of the young to participate in mediations and conflict management, also provided participants with the opportunity to benefit from the mentorship of civil affairs officers serving with the UN peacekeeping mission.

Source: UN Mission in South Sudan