North Africa Youth Leaders take Y.E.S a step forward

Published: 24 February 2014 16:39 CET

By Raefah Makki, IFRC

As we look into the journey spanning three continents from Austria, to Australia and now to North Africa, youth leaders from Red Crescent Societies in North Africa met together in Tunis for two days to move forward towards the implementation of Y.E.S 'Youth Engagement Strategy' in their respective countries and the region.

This is the first platform since the Statutory Meetings in Sydney where Red Cross Red Crescent leaders have endorsed Y.E.S and committed to empower the youth at different levels in furthering the impact of our work to vulnerable people in their communities, and globally.

Youth leaders came together to discuss common challenges, explore opportunities, connect to the global network and agree on concrete and realistic goals in furthering the impact of youth contribution to the work of National Societies, and the region. They also outlined the support needed.

“It’s extremely important to be here with our counterparts, we came from Libyan Red Crescent to agree together on the way to increase our strengthened engagement in reaching  the people in need,” said Libyan Red Crescent youth  and volunteers coordinator, Amir Al-Amary.

Participants from Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia shared on the first day of the training practices and experiences and introduced the major areas of focus in their countries including YABC, social and health programmes, migration, climate change and other core areas.

“We have waited long for this step. Having the IFRC Secretariat present with us is a great opportunity to reflect our voice on the global level. This is the first step to implement the Y.E.S strategy and we are setting an example to other regions,” said Dr Amal Emam, youth representative from the Egyptian Red Crescent.

Dr Emam added: “As the Arab Spring has started from North Africa, the power of the youth to push the MENA youth network has also started from North Africa.”

“This meeting aimed to put in practice the IFRC Y.E.S approved in Sydney and to fulfil the commitment made by the MENA Zone leadership to deal with youth and volunteers as a priority,” said Dr Muftah Etwilb, IFRC regional representative, North Africa. “The outcomes of this meeting will be the roadmap to youth and volunteers in North Africa for 2014 and 2015.”

“This meeting was very fruitful, inspiring and aspiring! I would like to congratulate the youth leaders from North Africa for the great effort and hard work to achieve strong outcomes in advancing youth engagement throughout the region, and globally. As we move forward, it is great to see the energy and concrete actions to be taken by the MENA youth network in making a difference for humanity,” said Geri Lau, Head of IFRC youth action and volunteering development.

During the past two days, youth shared their plans and strategic directions for 2014 and 2015 with specific areas of focus including commitment to the protection of volunteers, empowering youth at leadership level and communications with the leadership, increasing youth capacities and learning opportunities, youth retention, recognition and innovation as well as partnership building with youth networks in the Movement and with external partners.

Emna Ben Hamza, national youth coordinator of the Tunisian Red Crescent Society has expressed her deep gratitude for holding the first meeting of North Africa youth leaders in Tunisia.  Ben Hamza said: “We build great hopes on this initiative which will further increase the role of youth in the region.”

The diverse strategic directions that each country have set for the next two years have contributed to a wider set of priorities for the North Africa region which highlighted the following key issues:

  • Safety and protection of the youth and volunteers, taking into consideration the context: SD3 objective 1 and 2 (insurance and training) Protection of volunteers including security and safety;
  • Motivation recognition and innovation;
  • Increasing Employability skills;
  • Peer Advisory and Guidance Resource, including an impact  study for the youth volunteers work;
  • Establishing partnerships with organisations working on the same youth and volunteers priorities;
  • Position and promote the work of the North Africa youth and volunteers.