By Amanuel Nayr
The Horn of Africa has been a region of crises for many decades. Ethnic conflicts, national liberation wars, coups and resources conflicts have almost been features associated with the region. These have kept the region in a dire state. Poverty and insecurities of all sorts have wreaked havoc on the region.
Nonetheless, no one has been happy with the ugly state of the region. Governments, the region and international community have thought of changing that for the better. In fact, many concrete attempts have been made for resolving the disparate challenges. Including regional governments founded organizations like Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Conflict Early Warning Response Mechanism (CEWARN). And at the international level, armed intervention and peace keeping initiatives have been undertaken by organizations like the United Nations and African Union. But few bore fruit. Many interstate problems like the one between Eritrea and Ethiopia remain unsolved.
The future of the Horn of Africa is not gloomy, however. Its youth are determined to take the region out of the impasse. Despite tensions among governments, they are trying to cultivate mutual understanding among themselves and ensure a peaceful and prosperous future. The initiatives being undertaken by Eritrean youth are part of the awakening of the youth in the region.
In July 2008, the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students organized a regional youth forum. The conference helped establish The Horn of Africa Youth Initiative Network (HAYI). HAYI was meant to cultivate mutual understanding among the youth in the Horn about peace and development issues. It marked a new awakening of the spirit of the young for a better future. It was a sign of denunciation of the past and a commitment for a better future. Since then, HAYI has been instrumental for sharing opinions and ideas on the future of the Horn.
Eritrea’s youth, like the other youth in the region, have been victims of the long-standing crises. They have fought wars and experienced economic hardship. But such experiences did not bring about desperation to them. On the contrary, they have served as catalysts for determination. They helped them realize, in depth, the roots of the regional crises and strive for solving them. This July, the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students is to host an international youth forum for Peace and Sustainable Development. This is a continuation of the previous initiatives and a manifestation of the commitment of the youth in the Horn of Africa, especially those in Eritrea, for regional and international peace.
Peace is not completely absent in the region. In countries like Eritrea, it is in abundance. And fortunately, like diseases, peace, is contagious. It can be spread to other countries. What is required is an agent. The youth of the region have already provided that. They are determined to do a feat by achieving what governments have failed to do; bringing peace and stability in the region. The beginnings are really heartening.