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Monday, May 22, 2006 

Monday, May 22, 2006

Youth ministers meeting in Nassau to address poverty, crime and HIV/AIDS

The issues of youth poverty, crime and HIV/AIDS will be at the forefront of discussions at the sixth meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers which opens in Nassau and runs through Friday, May 26.

"It is a present day tragedy that over half a billion young people (aged 15-29) in the Common-wealth are living on less than a dollar a day," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKin-non. "When you add that statistic with the worldwide statistics that 130 million young people are illiterate, 88 million are unemployed and 10 million are living with HIV/AIDS, in many ways, prospects for young people have never looked so grim.

Noting that good things are happening in the Commonwealth, Mr. McKinnon added, "Our Commonwealth Youth Program-me is an international leader in creating youth enterprise and employment, training young people, giving young people a voice through national youth councils and raising awareness in areas like HIV/AIDS where we run a highly successful Youth Ambas-sadors for Positive Living."

On these issues of youth poverty, HIV/AIDS and crime the Commonwealth Secretariat is working with the United Nations to develop a Youth Development Index, along the lines of the UN's Human Development Index. The implementation of this index would assist in measuring the effect of investment in the fight against youth poverty, HIV/AIDS and crime. The index would also provide invaluable data on other key issues such as population, education, employment, health, environment, drug abuse and migration.

Over 200 participants representing 53 Commonwealth countries will attend the meeting at the Radisson Cable Beach & Gold Resort, Nassau. The meeting's theme is 'Youth Empowerment for the Eradication of Poverty, Crime and HIV/AIDS.' The meeting of ministers will be preceded by the Pan-Common-wealth Youth Caucus and Regional Advisory Board Meetings on May 22-23.

"We are looking forward to meeting in The Bahamas and to our voices being heard as youth of the region," said Norman Gilbert, Regional Youth Caucus Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Region. "We are also looking forward to understanding how we as youth can help in achieving the objectives of the Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment, and in so doing address the many problems facing our youth."

This will be the second Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting where young people will have the opportunity to participate in meetings alongside youth ministers. The idea to give national youth representatives a seat at ministerial meetings was piloted at the last meeting of Commonwealth Youth Ministers in Botswana in 2003. The young delegates will be able to make direct interventions and fully participate in the meetings at the discretion of the head of their national delegation.

The Official Opening of 6CYMM will take place at the Wyndham Resort Ballroom on Tuesday May 23, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. Speeches will be given by the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Hon. Perry Christie, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKin-non. Accredited media are invited to attend.

© 2006 The Freeport News

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