YEU at the seminar ‘La voix de la Jeunesse du Sahel’
Hello fellow YEU people,
In the beginning of June, I had the opportunity to participate in the seminar ‘La voix de la Jeunesse du Sahel’ or in English – The voice of the Youth of the Sahel – in Bamako, Mali. This action was funded by the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa with co-funding by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
We were a group of 75 participants including representatives from the Magreb countries, Europe, the Diaspora of the Sahel in Europe and the G5 of the Sahel (Niger, Tchad, Mauritania, Mali and Burkina Faso).
This seminar happened as a follow-up of its first edition which occurred in Brussels in 2016 and it lasted 4 days. The different topics discussed, included:
- Economic Opportunities (employment, entrepreneurship and mobility)
- Peace and Security
During the seminar, we worked in commissions to discuss and produce recommendations regarding the topics mentioned above. These recommendations were then communicated to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission from the European Commission – Federica Mogherini.
Meeting Federica Mogherini and understanding her interest in the situation of the Sahel countries was very important and also, a great source of motivation since she was once just a volunteer/an activist like all of us in YEU. In fact, in the past, she was a member of the Bureau of the European Youth Forum.
In this meeting with Federica Mogherini, we had also present, the ministers of foreign affairs of the G5 of the Sahel and the ambassadors of the European Union in the G5 of the Sahel.
In the meeting, the European participants were asked to give a message regarding our participation in the seminar. We found that we share common problems regarding:
- Lack of access to decision-making
- Social inequalities
- Environmental degradation
- Gender inequalities
More than anything, we realized how important it is to share good practices with people who face these issues every day, although living in very different realities.
The seminar was mainly moderated by Gwenola Rageau from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.
Personally, this was a great experience. Being able to hear in firsthand the experiences and the needs of the youngsters from the G5 of the Sahel presented me with a very different and realistic perspective of their lives. The importance of the fact that the European Commission is ready to hear them and try to help them based on their real needs cannot be measured and, I believe that these kind of events can be used for the benefit of everyone.
During the 4 days in Bamako, we got to experience the life of the Sahel or at least, we had good glimpses of it. We walked through the market, danced with our newly made friends from the seminar and other locals and I even visited some homes invited by locals. I can say I saw sadness, poverty but I also saw people who find happiness in every corner and have their hearts full of hope.
Hopefully, YEU can have a part in the future of the Sahel by continuing to share good practices.