The Star (Nairobi)

25 January 2014

Kenya: No Jobs for Coast Youth

Unemployment, marginalisation and police harassment have pushed youth at the Coast to join criminal gangs, a group has said.

Koch group youth activist Evans Kasema on Thursday said many youth are jobless. He was speaking at a forum dubbed Countering Violence and Extremism. Kasema said youth in Mombasa blame the government for scarce jobs. He said marginalisation of the region has led to increased poverty.

Evans Kasema a youth activist from Mombasa based KOCH youth group said this had left many youths jobless, idle and disoriented.

"There has been a stereotype that the coastal people are lazy, this wrong assertions has been used to deny the youths from this region equal chances to jobs over the years. Leading to desperation which is pushing the youths to join gangs and extremism groups like Al-shabab just because the groups provide options for survival," he said calling for equitable sharing of national jobs.

Land grabbing that has seen tracts of land end up in hands of few individuals and scenario where large chunks of lands at the coast are owned by foreigners Mariam Kassim a youth leader said had barred many locals from accessing and using land thus contributing to extreme poverty conditions that makes youth vulnerable to joining extremism groups.

She called on government to expedite audit on land ownership with a view of providing solutions to the persistent land disputes that has been a source of constant conflict in the region.

"If the coastal people can be guaranteed land rights, they will be able to work and produce food, even surplus thus be able to fight poverty and as well engage the young people more," she said.

She further cautioned against police brutality and profiling of Muslims in the war against terror.

"Terrorists are criminals who should be treated as such, they do not commit crimes on behalf of Muslims therefore police should not issue blanket punishment or profile the entire ummah (community) on mistakes committed by the terrorists. Because doing so annoys youths more and they might opt to join the terrorist groups in defence or retaliation," she said.

Daniel Saya Uwezo Mombasa county coordinator on his part called on increased interfaith dialogues to ease tension and suspicion.

He also called on schools to inculcate attitudes of hardwork, tolerance and patriotism in their students so as they can not be lured into joining extremist groupings.

"This schools should train children on personal goals as well train them not only on how to pass exams but also on how to create jobs when they finish schools so as they don't leave school as disoriented fellows that terrorists can tap into," he said.

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