Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The need to develop for the youth in Timor-Leste

The country of Timor-Leste has a very young population. Much of that population doesn't have much to do because jobs are scarce. Many youth join street gangs, or the youth who want to stay off the streets turn to martial arts groups, but even some of those groups have bad elements.

From the IRIN, we hear from a leader of a youth group in Timor-Leste who has over 20,000 members.

Disenchantment among young people who fought for independence during Timor-Leste's resistance years could lead to unrest if they are not included in the country's development process, analysts warned.

"They feel their existence is not relevant any more in this independence era," said Ozorio Leque, 28, leader of Colimau 2000 - a youth group set up by activists during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste.

A large number of disenfranchised youth are dissatisfied with high unemployment, low wages and lack of access to education, with only 27 percent completing secondary school. The World Bank estimates that by next year nearly 40 percent of the population will be between 15 and 29 years old.

Many turn to martial arts groups, with as many as 20,000 registered and 90,000 unregistered members.

"There is an assumption that when you join a group, you will be protected. The other reason is that most of the younger generation lack skills and knowledge so they take whatever they can get," said Leque.

About half the 1.1 million population lives below the poverty line. In Dili, unemployment is as high as 62 percent among those aged 15 to 19, while eight out of 10 young people engage in subsistence activities.

Leque, who claims that Colimau 2000 has more than 20,000 members, is due at Dili District Court on 22 June to be tried for crimes related to events in 2006.

On 28 April 2006, he launched a verbal tirade against the government before a mob attacked the government palace and destroyed state vehicles.

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