Statement of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Delivered by Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri Minister, Deputy Permanent Representative
At the General Assembly High Level Meeting on Youth
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I wish to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this timely High level Youth Forum highlighting the International year of Youth.
On behalf of the Afghan Government, I would like to stress the need for further effort to support young people in developing their capacity to tackle the challenges they face. Let me emphasize that the primary responsibility for ensuring youth development lies with states. Today I will address both the challenges ahead for Afghan youth and achievements accomplished thus far.
Afghanistan is a country of youth. 68% of the population is below 25 years of age. The bulk of the population is to a certain extent deprived of their fundamental rights, including but not limited to lack of educational and employment opportunities. The situation of Afghan girls is of particular concern – under traditional pressures they enter early marriage and early pregnancy, contributing to Afghanistan’s dire MMR and IMR.
Youth literacy rates are low; 50% for boys and 18% for girls; secondary school enrollments are respectively 23% and 7%, and less than 2% of the Afghan population reaches higher education.
Faced with these challenges, Afghan youth are at risk. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by unemployment, low wages, lack of safety and security, poverty and lack of medical care, making youth particularly at risk to recruitment to armed opposition and terrorist organizations.
In the face of these challenges, we should not lose sight of the progress made thus far. To date, more than seven millions boys and girls are enrolled in schools, investing in their futures. We have constructed more than 4,000 schools across the country; we predict to have Fourteen million children enrolled in schools by 2020; and in a country where practically no girls received education just ten years ago, over 40 percent of these new students will be girls. Additionally, the great majority of Afghanistan’s population has access to basic health-care, showing great progress over the last ten years.
It is worth mentioning that a considerable percentage of the Afghan parliament are comprised of young representatives, almost entire of the news agencies, TVs broadcasting, monthly magazines are running by the young generation in Afghanistan.
The Government of Afghanistan is committed to fulfilling its responsibility to protect the rights of all youth and to addressing violations of youth’s rights. We have initiated a number of important steps at the national, regional and international levels. This includes the launch of a National Youth Programme, which reiterates our commitment to the development of the sons and daughters of Afghanistan and seeks to establish an opportunity for Afghan youth to fulfill their aspirations.
This generation of youth in my country, having experienced conflict and exile, now they must be empowered with alternative opportunities. Their fresh perspectives, their energy, enthusiasm and determination must be guided for promoting peace and development in Afghanistan.
I wish to conclude by joining the previous speakers to express the condolences of the Afghan government and Afghan people to the Mission of Norway and through them to the people of Norway on the recent act of terror which caused dozens of casualties.
I thank you.
For your attention