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[afro-nets] ICASA 2005 Highlights Importance of Youth

  • From: Janet Feldman <kaippg@earthlink.net>
  • Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 15:18:42 -0500

ICASA 2005 Highlights Importance of Youth

Youth in Africa must join in all on going efforts to fight the
HIV/AIDS pandemic that is ravaging the continent especially
since it affects them the most. The ICASA 2005 President, Pro-
fessor Femi Soyinka addressed youth at the Youth Reach Out Pro-
gram organised by the Youth and Communications Departments of
the ICASA 2005 secretariat to mark the International Youth Day.
He said, ?the future of Africa cannot be mapped without the body
that make up the future ­ the youth. If we do not begin to in-
volve them in the control and prevention of the spread of
HIV/AIDS the way forward for Africa will remain bleak.?

?The commitments must first of all come from African leaders to
show good example and then the youth who owe themselves a chance
for a good future,? he said. ?Commitment comes with a change in
behavior especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This is why
ICASA 2005 will give prominence to the Youth Program and exten-
sively focus on young people because of the role young people
play regarding HIV/AIDS,? he added.

The theme for this year?s International Youth Day is 'Making
Commitments Matter ­ Reviewing Ten Years of the World Programs
of Action'.

The Youth Reach Out Program which was held on Friday, August 12,
2005, at the secretariat of the National Action Committee on
AIDS (NACA), Abuja, was organised with support from NACA and the
Federal Capital Territory Action Committee on AIDS (FACA). It
was attended by close to fifty people representing media organi-
sations, youth organisations and NGOs such as Africa Youth Foun-
dation, Pathfinder International, FCT Positive Youths (FPY),
NEPWHAN-APYIN, and Youth Alliance.

In his message on the International Youth Day, Kofi Annan, the
United Nations Secretary-General, said, ?Leaders need to be re-
minded of their promise to translate the Millennium Development
Goals into reality. That is where young people like you come in.
Your voices can hold leaders to those pledges at the 2005 Summit
and beyond.? He also added that, ?Youth around the world should
be encouraged to celebrate their role in society and to review
what their countries have achieved in youth development in the
past ten years.?

UNFPA?s Consultant for ICASA 2005 Youth program, Mrs. Fola
Richie Adewusi addressed the group on the challenges that young
people in Africa face regarding HIV/AIDS. She said, ?Though cur-
rent statistics show that young people are rapidly being in-
fected, there will be a fall in the rate of infection with com-
mitment from the youth and through structures put in place by
Nigeria?s government agencies such as NACA and efforts from the
UN System.?

ICASA 2005?s Communications Manager, Ms. Margaret Adaba urged
the media to be more involved in the fight against AIDS. ?Your
role is vital because it is all about commitment and a combined
effort. You hold the power to inform or deform. And no matter
the efforts we all make here at ICASA or any other place, if you
are not actively involved then we become voiceless and sight-
less,? she said.

Current records indicate that over 200 million youth worldwide
are living in poverty. Over 130 million are illiterate, 88 mil-
lion unemployed and 10 million are living with HIV/AIDS.

Sub-Saharan Africa is most affected by HIV/AIDS with an esti-
mated 25.4 million people living with HIV. In Nigeria, Africa?s
most populous nation, HIV/AIDS grew slowly from 1.9% in 1993 to
5.4% in 2003. An estimated 3.8 million Nigerians are infected
with HIV while 2.3 million have died from AIDS. A majority of
people living with HIV/AIDS in are between ages of 15 & 49 - in
their prime and making up the active work force.

ICASA 2005?s Youth Program will focus on strengthening partici-
pation and responsibilities of youth leadership in implementing
existing international declarations (ECOWAS, NEPAD, AU, UN) and
highlighting the role of the youth in the family (focus on best
practices against HIV/AIDS).

ICASA expects thousands of participants among who will be over
five hundred youth. Other participants will be representatives
of governments, international organizations, academic and scien-
tific institutions, non governmental, community and faith-based
organizations, associations of people living with HIV and media

For more information please contact:

Margaret Adaba
Communications Manager
ICASA 2005