12th August marks International Youth Day, of which the theme this year is ‘Youth Building Peace’. The day is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.
Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 in 2015, there is an increased understanding that youth are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. In the same way that we view children in education as a positive force for development, they are also invaluable vessels of peace who have the power to shape our futures in for generations to come. This is particularly true in the case of Palestine.
The current generation of youth is the largest in history-in Palestine alone, more than half of the population are children under the age of 18. This suggests that there is the greatest hope for peace and prosperity within these future leaders and change-makers. However, for young people to build peace, they must have the freedom to aspire to greatness, and feel their dreams and goals are obtainable and their physical and psychological health should be safeguarded. For young Palestinians, attaining their basic human rights is a daily struggle. The besiegement in the Gaza Strip and the repressive occupation in the West Bank, as well as a lack of freedom afforded to them in the refugee camps of neighbouring countries has left them fighting to survive rather than thrive. Their rights are being stripped away daily and their futures are at risk. This can only have negative and tragic consequences for Palestinian society and for the likelihood of peace and justice in the region.
Many organisations are working toward promoting dialogue and understanding between young Palestinian and Israelis with a positive impact, however in order to make peace a reality, Palestinian youths must be afforded their rights and freedoms. With the above taken into consideration, they have the capacity to create a better world for themselves and for us all. We have seen the resilience, the kindness and the strength of young Palestinians and we are invested in supporting them, whether through education aid, job creation or health and humanitarian aid. Interpal believe in the power of Palestine’s young people and on this day, we acknowledge the role they have to play and pledge to listen and learn from them.