NGO to engage youth in fight against terror

YADEN director Sammy Gathii speaks to jornalists after meeting county representatives in a Garissa hotel/ STEPHEN ASTARIKO
YADEN director Sammy Gathii speaks to jornalists after meeting county representatives in a Garissa hotel/ STEPHEN ASTARIKO

A programme aimed at engaging the youth and counter violence extremism has been launched.

The programme, titled Amka, will cover 10 coastal and northeastern counties.

Nairobi-based Youth, Arts, Development and Entrepreneurship Network (YADEN) is the brains behind Amka.

Its director, Sammy Gathii, said youths are the most vulnerable group and are often ignored by both the county and national governments in major decision making.

“This is a very dangerous way of addressing violence extremism. If we fail to engage the youth then the whole purpose of fighting terrorism could be lost,” Gathii said.

Amka is aimed at engaging the youth to rise and take up the responsibility of countering terror. It also aims at creating partnership between national, county and community youth projects.

The objective is to bring on board youth at the grassroots in preventing terrorism information and knowledge, package it into viable resource and link to inform higher level of state and non-state interventions.

The director said idle youth can easily be lured to criminal activities including terrorism.

“Youth are the majority in this country and have different talents that can be exploited for their benefit but if they are left on their own they can be a security threat. We are, therefore, launching this programme so they are engaged in meaningful life-changing programmes.”

He added, “We also want to ensure that the gap between the youth and government, both at county and national level, is bridged. Youth should be told the opportunities that are available for them so that they exploit them.”

The launch was attended by senior officials from county and national government who promised to support the initiative.

The counties to be covered are Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Nairobi and Mombasa.

Garissa deputy county secretary Abdirashid Mohamed said the county will partner with the national government and start mapping areas where youth have crossed the border to ensure they are monitored closely.

“We are welcoming all partners involved in the fight against terror in Garissa because we are among the counties that have borne the brunt of terror attacks perpetuated by al Shabaab,” he said.

Ijara, Hulugho, Dadaab and Fafi subcounties are the most affected, the deputy secretary said.

The county will soon commission a team to ascertain the number of youths missing as well as engage religious leaders and community elders to ensure every household accounts for people who have left their homes.

“This mapping exercise will help us to know if our missing youth are with bad elements. It is at this point that we will chart the way forward,” he said.