Read caption Benjamin Daniel (left,14 years old) and Nyamandong Isaac (right, 16) are pictured at their school at the UN Protection of Civilians site in Juba, South Sudan. Young women and men in conflict areas have difficulties accessing education, economic opportunities and protection.

Millions of youth at the forefront of neglected conflict

NRC|Published 12. Aug 2017
Young women and men in conflict areas have difficulties accessing education, economic opportunities and protection. They remain one of the most neglected groups when it comes to humanitarian interventions.

Among the world’s displaced people, youth are disproportionally affected representing over 33 per cent of the population. However, their concerns are rarely heard and their needs seldom prioritised in humanitarian planning and response.

“Humanitarian interventions rarely target youth who are perhaps the most underserved among displaced people. This gap leaves displaced youth vulnerable and exposed to risk, which has long term consequences, not only for their own future, but also for the wider community,” said NRC´s Global Youth Specialist, Emma Bonar.

Globally, over 620 million youth are not in education, employment or training. In Africa alone, 10 million more youth arrive each year in the labour market. These social and economic challenges are exacerbated for displaced youth. Many live in a state of ‘limbo’ – often with no access to education, without opportunities to earn a living, or even the right to work, as is the case in many countries.

“Many of us are orphans, our parents have died and we are left to take care of our siblings. Nobody is here to help us, nobody stands with me to achieve what I want to achieve. I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor but I wasn’t able to go to school. I didn’t even have a book or a pen. I have now joined this project to learn how to be a hairdresser and hopefully earn money in the future,” 22-year-old a young, displaced woman from South Sudan told NRC. She attends NRC´s vocational trainings.

In South Sudan, many youth have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict  They face limited employment opportunities and lack of support to access vocational or higher education opportunities.

 “These young people have lost their fathers, sisters, husbands and daughters, leaving them responsible for younger siblings and family members. Their youth has been interrupted, their hopes shattered and their futures have become uncertain” said Bonar.

“On International Youth day, I am reminded of all the amazing young people I have met who are motivated, ambitious and keen to help overcome the difficult reality they face. They have huge potential and we must step up our efforts and provide more support to youth to allow them to regain control over their futures and develop into educated, productive and engaged members of society,” Bonar said. 

  • Of the 7.3 billion people in the world today, approximately 1.8 billion are adolescents and youth between 10-25 years old. (i.e. there are more young people in the world today than ever before in history and this population is growing fastest in the least developed countries).
  • There are more young people in the world than ever before, and this youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations, according to UNFPA.
  • In South Sudan, the majority of youth are outside of the education system. Sixty per cent of youth between the age of 15-24 are illiterate (72 per cent of the young women, 45 per cent of the young men)
  • A mere 1% of refugees have access to higher education compared to the 34% average. (Source is UNHCR)
  • NRC is an active member of the Global Compact for Young People in Humanitarian Action. The compact is a collective commitment of key actors to ensure that the priorities, needs and rights of young people affected by disaster, conflict, forced displacement and other humanitarian crises, are addressed, and that they are informed, consulted, and meaningfully engaged throughout all stages of humanitarian action.