Anarchy followed the overthrow of the Somali military regime in 1991. Since then Somali youth have been facing a lot of challenges; they have been marginalised and excluded from decision-making processes politically although decisions made by politicians affect, to large extent, the Somali youth. According to Somalia Human Development Report 2012, the majority of Somali youth believes they have a right to be educated (82%) and a right to decent employment (71%), but they feel disempowered by multiple structural barriers built into the family, institutions, local government and society at large. Added to this, there is a high unemployment rate of the Somali youth – 70%/.
It should be noted that the practice of clannism affects employment opportunities of the Somali youth. Jobs are distributed on the basis of clan-based relations, not a merit. That is why some young Somalis are lured into clan militias and extremist groups. Some choose to immigrate to Europe despite risks associated with such an endeavour.
The International Organization for Migration argues that, in order to tackle unemployment, the universities should play a role in equipping the youth with knowledge and skills that enable young jobseekers to find jobs in the labour market. In the case of Somalia precarious security situation is another somewhat intractable problem that impinge on how the Somali youth find jobs in their homeland. Where there is no peace, there is less opportunity for job creation.
Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Somalia, Peter de Clercq, stated that “We have contributed so far $38 million to 18 programs that are dedicated to youth employment, youth empowerment and more youth influence in politics, and we will continue to support the youth and the government of Somalia in this very important objective.”
This is a step in the right direction that needs to be complemented by the work of the Somali Federal Government and Federal Member States. The Somali political class neglects the role of the youth in nation-building. To overcome those challenges, an effort must be made to,
· Get the Somali youth involved in decision-making
· Prepare the youth for leadership roles
· Empower the youth to become active citizens
· To encourage regional and federal authorities to put youth empowerment at the centre of the development plans.
It takes commitment, time and resources to bring those measures into fruition in the interest of Somalia where the youth remains a neglected generation.
By Mahbub Mohamed Abdullahi