Children represent "promises, not perils" in fight against extremism

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Jan Eliasson. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Children and youth around the world, represent "promises, not perils" when it comes to the fight against violent extremism.

That's the message from UN Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, at the opening session of a High-Level conference on children affected by violent extremism.

Friday's day-long event was hosted by the President of the General Assembly, and aimed to examine the threats to youth, and highlight prevention efforts.

Matthew Wells reports.

Stakeholders from around the world came together at UN Headquarters to discuss the so-called push and pull-factors that have led to the radicalization of vulnerable young people by terrorist groups, and their ideologies.

General Assembly President, Mogens Lykketoft said there was "a great deal at stake" and everyone had a "great deal to learn".

Mr Eliasson said the growing numbers of young people attracted to groups such as ISIL and Boko Haram meant that countering extremism was a top priority for the UN moving forward.

"We should understand that young people may be vulnerable to the lure of violent extremists, who offer them a salary, a sense of belonging, and a promise of glory. The vast majority of young people abide by the law and have aspirations for better and peaceful lives for themselves, their families and communities. Children and youth represent promises, not perils."

The Deputy Secretary-General added that young people across the world had "unprecedented networking skills" that could be harnessed for the common good, not abused by terrorist networks.

He pointed to Somalia, home of Al Shabaab, where youth unemployment is at 70 per cent.

That marginalization and despair needed to be replaced with faith and hope for the future, he added.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’12″

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