Delegate: Ms. Louis
Ms. Louis (Haiti) (spoke in French): When I learned that I had been appointed by the Secretary of State for Youth to represent Haitian youth at the General Assembly, I hesitated, because on the one hand I know how complex and multifaceted the needs of youth are, and, on the other, I was unsure about the follow-up to such an event. But, aware that this is an appropriate forum for voicing the claims of our young people, we have come here in the hope that they will be heard and taken into account.
Haitian youth is living and developing in an environment of constant deterioration. It is deprived of all socio-economic and institutional opportunities, and it cannot flourish at the cultural level. Infrastructure for education, health care, professional training, public hygiene and recreation is lacking, which hinders the development of the collective social conscience that is necessary if we are to transform the existing socioeconomic structure into a modern and effective production mechanism.
Despite our Governments efforts vis-à-vis Haitian youth, we have been unable to devise a policy aimed at promoting the physical and intellectual development of young people even less so with regard to socio-professional development, which could promote a transition to independence.
Ten years after the elaboration of the Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, and despite the many recommendations made for youth, the situation of young Haitians has not improved. For several decades now, the number of young people in Haiti has been growing. Demographically speaking, it is clear that they now represent a significant percentage of our population. In 1997, those aged 15 to 24 years represented 30 per cent of the population. As the growth rate is nearly 2 per cent annually, just imagine what the employment situation is today.
According to a 1995 United Nations Development Programme report, the unemployment rate was then at 65 per cent. The socio-political crisis, which grew worse in 2002, is affecting various sectors of the economy and is having a devastating impact on social indicators. We believe that unemployment will continue so long as the political crisis is not resolved and so long as there is not greater involvement on the part of young people in the context of a national youth policy that takes account of the Millennium Development Goals and of the actual needs of youth.
HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. As in the rest of the world, it is having major repercussions for Haitian youth. The most affected are young people aged 15 to 24, and those figures are continuing to rise. The situation is having a negative impact on the development process in the country. Furthermore, young people who are trying to protect themselves from possible HIV/AIDS infection are having a difficult time getting access to information, counselling, screening and treatment.
In the light of those conditions, it is evident that the limited labour market has no place for urban or rural youth. That largely explains the phenomenon of boat people prevalent among young people. Young people are driven to migrate. They take to the seas on flimsy watercraft in search of new horizons. Among them are young people from rural areas who do not have access to education or plots of land and others who had bad luck on their high school exams, along with all other types of young people, coming from all over the country in search of better economic prospects. The great majority of those potential [*30*] immigrants end up living in the shanty towns of Port-au-Prince, where they become involved in criminal activity and are used to foment the climate of insecurity that has existed in the country for several years, since the departure of former President Aristide.
With regard to unemployment and the precariousness of education and social life, Haitian youth are now considering the best type of programme to adopt for our circumstances. One thing is certain: the policies proposed for industrialized countries are not applicable in our situation. We therefore propose that the United Nations support our Government in the following manner.
Studies should be designed and carried out on the socio-economic situation of young people in order to create programmes that take their real needs into account. The international community should support the Government of Haiti in implementing a programme for the social, cultural and intellectual development of young people. A space should be created within the United Nations for youth representatives from various countries to meet and discuss their problems and the solutions. In Haiti, the Secretary of State for Youth should be replaced with a Ministry for Youth in order to make actions for youth more effective. I hope those recommendations will receive consideration.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.28