Extremists are using COVID-19 lockdowns to recruit youths online, UN chief says
Over 1.5 billion children and youth around the world are out of school. They have to spend all their time at home due to the closed schools amid COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, young people, who are now spending more time online, are more likely to be influenced by extremist groups, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a U.N. Security Council meeting on youth, peace and security.
“We can already see such groups taking advantage of the COVID-19 lockdowns, intensifying their efforts on social media to spread hatred and to recruit young people who may be spending more time at home and online,” Guterres warned at the virtual Security Council meeting.
The UN chief added that even before the current COVID-19 pandemic, young people were facing enormous challenges.
“The numbers are startling. One in every five young people was already not in education, training or employment and one in every four is affected by violence or conflict. Every year, 12 million girls become mothers while they themselves are still children”, Guterres said.
The UN chief called on the world community to significantly increase investment in the future of the youth.
“Young people are not subjects to be protected, but should be seen as citizens with equal rights, as full members of our societies, and as powerful agents for change,” Guterres said.
He expressed concern that it is rare that the opinions of young people are taken seriously. He pointed out that in today’s world the young people are not given enough rights for action.
“Only 2.2 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are under 30 years of age. So it is not surprising to see declining levels of turnout of the part of young voters in the world, reflecting growing dissatisfaction with political establishments,” Guterres said.
The meeting participants noted that the UN member states should create a safe environment for youth activities and initiatives, as well as ensure their equal participation in public processes.