UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns that extremist groups are taking advantage of COVID-19 blockades to intensify social media efforts to spread hatred and recruit young people who spend more time online.
He said that even before the coronavirus pandemic, one in five young people received no education, training, or work, and one in four was affected by violence or conflict. And he deplored that every year 12 million girls become mothers.
Guterres said at a United Nations Security Council meeting on youth, peace and security on Monday that “these frustrations and, frankly, the failures of those in power today, fuel a decline in confidence in political institutions and institutions ”.
And he said: “When such a cycle takes hold, it is too easy for extremist groups to exploit anger and despair, and the risk of radicalization increases.”
But despite these challenges, the UN chief said that young people “still find ways to engage, support each other and demand and drive change” – including in the fight against COVID- 19.
Guterres noted that young people in Colombia, Ghana, Iraq and several other countries are joining aid workers to provide supplies to frontline health workers and those in need, keeping communications open in communities while maintaining social distance. He said young people also support his March 23 call for a ceasefire in all conflicts around the world.