A Young Libyan User’s Manual for Burying the Hatchet
They did not come to the Tunisian-Libyan Youth Forum in Tunis. Some young Libyan participants were blocked at the border. Others like Tawfik did not come, and never will, because they were killed; murdered for their engagement.
Everything changed for Nada after Tawfik left this world. Just like him, Nada is a civil society activist in Libya. A young woman full of passion, hope and willingness to rebuild her country; the Libya of her childhood that has now spiraled towards a civil war.
“All these killings… It could have been us,” says Nada. “I read everything Tawfik wrote online. Why him? We all support one side over another. I was confused… in shock. People say we must stop writing. I don’t even know what exactly it is that I should stop doing. Expressing myself? Working in civil society? No longer engage in anything at all?”
The Forum held in Tunisia in December 2014 was a space for 50 young Libyans and Tunisians to share experiences and outline projects to rebuild their countries. For the organizers – Civil Initiatives Libya, UNESCO and UNDP, along with other civil society organizations from Tunisia and Libya – it was an opportunity to continue working together, more than ever, to support the efforts of youth organizations in Libya.
“There are a number of things that we can do,” says Michael Croft, UNESCO representative in Tripoli. “We have experience and a platform, NET-MED Youth, an EU-funded project which fosters youth engagement and gives them tools to become actors of change. Young Libyans have ideas and solutions we have not thought about. We help them put these forward so we can assist with the implementation.”
Nada understands the value of her encounter with the more experienced Tunisian civil society youth, and the value of sitting around the same table with Libyans from all fractions.
“We differ politically, but we can still talk without fighting. If we can do it, how come our elders cannot?” she declares.
Libya is at war, and being an activist is a high-risk enterprise. But Nada and her compatriots see the Forum and NET-MED Youth as the start of a new and hopeful chapter to foster dialogue between mutually unaware or opposing bodies, settle tensions and craft solutions to enable Libya to emerge from the rubble.
“We are doing it for the Tawfik’s of Libya, for our country,” says Nada.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.