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LATIN AMERICA
First Afro-descendents youth summit held
10/14/2011
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Public policy still lagging in promoting equality for this group.

Dozens of Afro-descendant youth leaders met in San José, Costa Rica on Oct. 5-7 to help promote a united agenda to advance equality for one of the world’s most marginalized groups.

“Inequality has a black face, an Afro face,” said Epsy Campbell, coordinator of the Afro-Costa Rican Women’s Center, during the inauguration of the First World Afro-Descendant Youth Summit. “This is the year that we can launch a vigorous and modern Afro-descendant agenda. This generation, especially women and young people have to see themselves as protagonists.”

Representatives between the ages of 18 to 35 from Europe, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean participated in this event held as part of the UN International Year for People of African Descent.

The Latin America and Caribbean director of the United Nations Population Fund, Luis Mora, said the region is the “most unequal in the world” and that the young, particularly Afro-descendant population, are one of the most affected by that. He recommended governments invest in programs aiming to increase opportunities for young people.

Mirjana Najcevska, chairperson of UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, said that racism is a major hurdle for the region and criticized a lack of accountability for those who discriminate against this group.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which helped organize the campaign “Put Yourself in the Shoes of Afro-Descendants,” said that 10 percent of the body’s programs’ recipients are Afro-descendants.

“Their needs are particular because these people tend to have more obstacles to integrate themselves into the country because of suffering from greater discrimination,” said Jozef Merkx, the agency’s Costa Rica representative.
—Latinamerica Press.


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