MONROVIA- The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) through its USAID-supported Youth for Peace (Y4P) Activity, in partnership with the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) and Liberia National Student Union (LINSU), held the 2nd edition of the National Youth and Student Summit under the theme: “Promoting Dialogue, Participation, and Inclusion in the 2023 National Elections.” The summit, held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town from September 20 to 22, 2923, brought over 250 young individuals for a three-day engagement aimed at strengthening relationships and fostering peaceful collaboration among the youth, students, and political party youth leaders toward a peaceful election in Liberia.
By Francis G. Boayue
The summit was precisely organized with each day dedicated to different activities. During the first day of the summit, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, Charge’ D’ Affaires, Madam Catherine Rodriguez, acknowledged the leadership potential of every Liberia youth to promote peace.
“Do not doubt your ability to be a leader and agent of positive change; The trick is to focus on areas where you can make a difference, and you may be surprised at what you accomplish.
” She continues, “You can also raise awareness within your communities about the importance of preventing electoral violence and refusing offers of money in exchange for votes or actions that could destabilize this country.”
In addition, she emphasized the United State commitment to promoting peace in Liberia.
“The United States continues to support peace in Liberia. We have been increasing our violence prevention programming as the elections approach, primarily through activities focused on youth, media, and civil society.”
The second day was a mix of outdoor and indoor activities, including a peace walk on the street of Congo town and a Peace Pledge at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex. Notably, youth and students reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful electoral process by reading a peace pledge and signing a peace pledge banner symbolizing their dedication to a non-violent election. Banica S. Ellort, President of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), represented the collective voice of all the Youth and students by reading the Peace Pledge/Communique.
“Now, therefore, on the 21st day of September 2023, we the leaders of the Youth and student bodies attest our names and signature to this document as a sign of commitment to communicate to our members be it stakeholders, and the national government, whereas youth and students shall abide by every positive measure being put in place by both the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) and Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) as a way of ensuring that the youth and student community remain peaceful during these elections.”
The summit concluded on the third day with sport for peace activities at the Invincible Park in Sinkor like football, and kickball reinforcing the message of peace through sports. During the trophy presentation, CRS country manager, Abena Amedormey, congratulated all the youth for their steadfast commitment to peace.
“We are happy that you have come up with a peaceful resolution. There have been so much conversations that have gone on that you have been part of these last three days- including the peace pledge. We hope that this is just the start for you and the decision you will be making in these periods of elections. CRS is very grateful for your participation.”
In conclusion, the Second Edition of the National Youth and Student Summit provided a platform for Liberia’s future leaders to come together and make a unified commitment to a peaceful electoral process.