More than 75 young people from the countries of the Sahel region (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger), Europe and the Maghreb, as well as African diasporas based in Europe met in Bamako, Mali from 3 to 6 June 2017 in the framework of a dialogue between the youth of the Sahel and the institutions of their country. EFIL Pool of Representatives member, Alexandra Singpiel, was part of the European delegation and attended the meeting, which was selected through the European Youth Forum.
The dialogue initiated in 2016 at the initiative of the European Union with the aim of promoting the socio-economic and political integration of young people in the G5 Sahel countries. Throughout the year local and national meetings were held in the Sahel countries, with representatives joining the meeting in Bamako to ensure results of these meetings were taken to the next level.
The meeting in Bamako was around 3 topics, namely Education & training; Economic Opportunities and Peace & Security. Each of these topics and the related challenges were identified at the meeting held in 2016 in Brussels, while this year’s event focused on solutions and recommendations. The young people were then invited to present their outcomes to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU, and to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Sahel countries, in the presence of the EU representatives to the Sahel countries and other high-ranking representatives. The European delegation called in their joint statement for more involvement of youth in decision-making processes at all levels, and strengthened the importance of using money of the EU Trust Fund for Africa on funding opportunities of dialogue rather than establishing stronger borders. Here you can read the full statement (in French) Statement European delegation.
The fruitful exchange with youth from different regions will hopefully continue through different means on- and offline, leading to common action in the Sahel region and abroad.
In the meantime, the European Youth Forum calls for a focus on youth at the upcoming Africa-EU Heads of State Summit which will be held in November.
For EFIL this was an important opportunity to be involved in an initiative of dialogue with Africa, in a region of the continent where there is not yet the presence of AFS. Thanks to these initiatives by the EU, we are able to pursue our mission of intercultural dialogue beyond the countries where we act through our exchange programmes.
By Alexandra Singpiel
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