Youth advocate for inclusive policies

The position of migrant youth in the labour market, the responses of African families to public authorities, the treatment of undocumented asylum seekers and the relations between the Netherlands and the Congo: all were discussed during the concluding event of the IDEA project  Inclusion of African Youth in Europe in Nieuwspoort, Den Haag on May 22. Five participants of the project presented their advocacy cases to a public of experts, young people with African roots and policy makers. Have a look at the pictures of the event. 

This was the final event of a trajectory that started in November 2013. The participants learned how to communicate effectively about issues they want to promote through debate trainings, a competition and a public debate  on topics like education, employment and security of African youth in Europe. A dedicated few of the original thirty plus participants continued the project with blog writing and advocacy trainings in January. They then worked on their own campaigns with the skills they had learned and support from IDEA to develop policy papers and a campaign strategy.  The combined policy proposals and project report is attached to this page and can be found here.

Nikish Vita kicked off the presentation with her discussion of development relations between the Netherlands and the Congo and the ways in which young people in Europe can impact the situation in the Congo. She proposed three concrete improvements: the mobile app “we share peace,” stricter EU legislation to stop sales of conflict minerals like blood diamonds and the creation of an African Youth Leader Award to promote and reward young leaders. The app would provide young people in both the Netherlands and the Congo a chance to connect with and provide support and inspiration to each other. The EU legislation should stop the gains that militias gain from minerals, thereby also ending an important impetus for continued warfare. Companies would be forced to disclose the origin of all conflict minerals they acquired.

Sabine Koppes discussed the position of undocumented asylum seekers and their access to basic human rights. She argued that the current system is inhumane because these people cannot return to their home countries, cannot work and do not receive shelter or food from the Dutch government. Mouthena, one of the leaders of the undocumented refugees’ movement “we are here” stated that, contrary to what some belief, refugees do not flee their countries to find an economic paradise but because of real and threatening problems.

Elena Johanssen and Daniel Damalie moved the discussion on to a new topic: the relation between African families and public authorities. The African families often do not have enough experience or knowledge of their rights and of how to deal with Western bureaucracies that are different from their home countries. They often do not have time to learn enough about them and face language barriers as well. They therefore suggest providing courses to African families on how to deal with public authorities and are keen to look for opportunities to do so with local and national authorities.

Lastly, Kiza Magendane called attention to unemployment rates among youth with an immigrant background, a figure that is around three to four times as high as the national average. While other causes certainly exist, discrimination plays a major role in the disproportional figure. He therefore proposes a number of solutions to impact discrimination in society: paying more structural attention to the problem of discrimination, appointing a special ambassador for tackling youth unemployment among migrant youth, to reintroduce the Wet Samen that tackled ethnic discrimination until 2004, implementation of social service conscription to promote integration and an extension of migrant youth’s networks and a strategy to tackle youth unemployment directly. The latter is a new strategy that Kiza developed and named LMWO: Maatschappelijke en Lokale Werkstrategie en Ontwikkeling. He was interviewed about his proposals by the OneWorld platform.

The presenters then answered questions and suggestions from the audience. They have now completed a full lobby trajectory and can push for adoption of their ideas with decision makers. The Inclusion of African Youth in Europe project is organised by IDEA NL together with NCDOYouth in Action, a European Commission youth fund and the African Studies Centre. For more information and questions, contact Roeland Hemsteede