Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘MENA region

Youth Unemployment in Middle East and North Africa: How terrible is that trend?

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA region) face significant challenges when it comes to youth unemployment. A World Economic Forum report from 2012 notes, “Unemployment in the MENA region is the highest in the world…and largely a youth phenomenon.”

The Middle East and North Africa are not alone in terms of a serious lack of opportunity for many young people.

In the second quarter of 2012, the economically troubled European Union had a youth unemployment rate of 22.6%, as opposed to the OECD-wide average of 16.2 percent.

For example, Portugal had 38.7% youth unemployment, and Spain and Greece had staggering rates of 52.4 percent and 54.2%, respectively.

By contrast, the United States had 16.3 percent youth unemployment and Germany’s youth employment was an enviable 8.2 percent.

 posted on June 14, 2013

INSIGHT: Youth Unemployment in Middle East, North Africa

I’ve previously highlighted troubling trends in youth employment, including the problem of students whose lack of soft skills ( like apprenticeships?) preclude them from employment.

Employers’ dissatisfaction with the education levels of the workforce in GCC countries, and young Tunisians’ disillusionment with the opportunities available in their country and accompanying desire to emigrate.

To match Feature TUNISIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/

While some have raised issues with the way that these eye-popping European numbers are calculated (suggesting that the real rate is more like half of the headline numbers – but that’s still very high), there is little doubt that many youth – particularly in the MENA region and the struggling European economies – are losing out on economic opportunities, and consequently, hindering their lifetime earning potential.

“How should countries tackle youth unemployment? It’s an immense challenge, requiring solutions that will, at their best, involve private, public, and non-profit sectors.” – Isobel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations

How should countries tackle youth unemployment? It’s an immense challenge, requiring solutions that will, at their best, involve private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Germany and Spain’s labor ministers should be praised for their pragmatism in brokering a deal that will give apprenticeships in Germany to some 5,000 unemployed Spanish young people yearly – a move that is also a win for Germany, which needs additional qualified employees as its labor pool shrinks.

take 7 INSIGHT: Youth Unemployment in Middle East, North Africa

Graph by author. Data are from ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report. Regional data are from ILO’s 2012 preliminary estimates; U.S. and E.U. data are from the OECD’s second quarter 2012 data.

Non-profits are also pursuing interesting innovations with respect to tackling youth unemployment. LivelyHoods in Kenya, for instance, trains young people from Kenyan slums to sell useful products in their communities (e.g. solar lamps); the training includes vital business skills like customer service and financial literacy. In the Middle East and North Africa, Education for Employment connects young people to employers and also trains young people on finding jobs and on the soft skills that employers value. The organization has had particularly impressive results in high-unemployment Tunisia, where it began working in 2012: it has since graduated more than 540 Tunisians from its training programs and found employment for all of those in its job placement training program. The challenge, of course, is scaling up these initiatives.

Programs like these are particularly important because high levels of youth unemployment – in addition to limiting young people’s life prospects – stand to affect political trends, especially in countries that are transitioning to democratic rule. In a forthcoming book that I co-edited, Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions, one important takeaway is the critical role that inclusive economic development plays in sustaining democratic transitions. Libya’s plan to put billions of dollars towards funds that small and medium-sized businesses can access – in an explicit effort to create jobs – could help promote democratization there, especially if implemented in a transparent manner.

This post was originally published on blogs.cfr.org.

The views expressed in this Insight are the author’s own and are not endorsed by Middle East Voices or Voice of America. If you’d like to share your opinion on this post, you may use our democratic commenting system below. If you are a Middle East expert or analyst associated with an established academic institution, think tank or non-governmental organization, we invite you to contribute your perspectives on events and issues about or relevant to the region. Please email us through our Contact page with a short proposal for an Insight post or send us a link to an existing post already published on your institutional blog.

 INSIGHT: Youth Unemployment in Middle East, North Africa

Isobel Coleman

Isobel Coleman is senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative as well as director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. On Twitter, she can be followed at Isobel_Coleman.

Read more at Middle East Voices: http://middleeastvoices.voanews.com/2013/06/insight-youth-unemployment-in-middle-east-north-africa-86923/#ixzz2uKynpEjP

Slavery: Not only in the Middle East

Slavery is rampant in most countries, especially in West Africa (Mauritania, Ivory Coast, Gambia…) and the Far East, Yemen, Sudan, are practiced on its own citizens. Other countries abuse the “imported” work force to subjugate them into a state of slavery.

The Middle East, once at the forefront of slavery, is back in the spotlight again as now there are more cases emerging of contemporary slavery that are gradually catching up with the horrific events of the past.

Slaves were “imported” from Madagascar, Sudan, East Africa and the current States bordering the Sahara Desert.

In the 18th century, the European colonial powers and the USA shipped slaves from West Africa for several centuries.

The many hot spots of the MENA region, Sudan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and the UAE were pointed out as the countries that have the most number of slaves.

Khalil Dagher , regional intern of the World Youth Alliance Middle East, posted this article.

798px-Marsh_Arab_girl

Those trafficked into the Middle East are often put into forced labor; forced to work for long periods of time, sometimes up to 16 hours without pay.

They are often subjected to beatings, forced sexual relations and forced abortions.

Most of these victims end up dead before ever gaining their freedom. The majority of trafficked victims knew their trafficker. They were a family member, a friend, a relative, or a neighbor.

(Qatar for example, now on the verge of hosting the 2022 World Cup, is being accused of mistreatment of the workers  from Bangladesh, Nepal and the Himalaya States, employed to build the stadiums, or a form of slavery. Over 400 workers died so far from overwork, malnutrition and unsanitary dwelling).

With over 150,000 slaves, Mauritania ranks first globally as the country with the largest slave population. (It is reported that a third of the population are slaves)

In Jordan, child labor is huge with some 30,000 children working, mainly in shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Even Israel is in on the act following in the footsteps of the likes of Lebanon with a huge human trafficking sector.

Low-level skilled workers from China, Romania, Africa, Turkey, Thailand, and Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India face forced labor conditions.

Many have had their passports confiscated by their “sponsors,” never receive wages due to debt bondages, and face threats and physical intimidation.

Women from Russia and former Soviet states are commonly trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

In Sudan women and children are taken captive, then enslaved, branded, and bred. Women chosen as concubines (a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives) are genitally mutilated.

In Uganda, armed factions kidnap kids to become ruthless killers, after forcing them to kill their mothers.

In Lebanon human trafficking has developed into sex work. With Lebanon being one of the least conservative countries in the Middle East, brothels or ‘’whore houses” have found fertile ground in the spoils of the shadowy industry.

In analyzing the causes of slavery, it can be seen that it is often a by-product of poverty.

Countries that lack education, economic freedoms and the rule of law, and which have poor societal structure can create an environment that fosters the acceptance of slavery.

The majority of the trade is initialized in the developing world such as in Asia and Africa, where, the Middle East is merely another one of the drop-off points en route.

Government corruption around the world allows slavery to settle into a norm. Countries within the Middle East and North Africa are infamous for being corrupt states with police bribes and even government officials themselves playing a big role.

Even though it is illegal, millions have become vulnerable to slave holders and human traffickers looking to profit from the theft of people’s lives. This new slavery has two prime characteristics: slaves today are cheap and they are disposable.

From deceiving maids to work for a wealthy family in Lebanon to trading slaves from one buyer to another as if they were products in South Sudan, slaves are a rare commodity that won’t die down anytime soon until the right methods are aimed at stopping this from growing.

It is easy to analyze the causes of slavery in the Middle East and all over the world and identify it as a problem, but it is even easier to find solutions to eradicate slavery.

It’s important to state that this is only a plan of action that has to be adopted by all parties involved from the UN to members in society.

First plan of action is for governments to do more than they actually say. It’s the duty of the governments in the Middle East and all over the world to build a national plan to end slavery within its borders.

They can do this by bringing together all relevant existing government agencies, and appointing an anti-slavery ambassador charged with coordinating their efforts and actively involving the local anti-slavery organizations in their countries that are closest to the problem.

Second plan of action is for the UN to get more involved by putting pressure on permanent members to provide funds and resources to special representatives to aid in the eradication  of slavery, The Security Council should appoint a committee of experts to review the existing conventions on slavery and recommend how to unify and clarify these conventions.

The Security Council should establish a commission to determine how the existing UN inspection mandate could be applied to slavery.

Third plan of action is to promote plans that promise slavery-free cities. For example, Public Awareness Raising which could involve conferences in schools and universities all over the region and the world, promote the use of social media networks, and encourage more research to be done, going down to the street level and educating those who don’t know about slavery on the issue, and finally go to your community level where we all can be a hero and tackle slavery as a mobile force.

These are a few steps that can be used to finally eradicate slavery but will only take place when society as a whole decides to come together as a united force in social mobilization from the bottom up with the aim at influencing those in power that there is a problem that needs to be tackled.

Until then however, slavery will continue to go on right under our noses and in our back yards with no aim at ever stopping.

The Middle East is only a small percentage of what has developed into a social problem that should have ended centuries ago.

 


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