Delegate: Mr. Matlosa
Mr. Matlosa (Lesotho): I am honoured to have this opportunity to address the Assembly.
Lesotho is one of the poorest nations in the world and has the third highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. The epidemics magnitude threatens the very existence of our nation and makes the fight to carry out the World Programme of Action for Youth all the more difficult, if not outright impossible. Youth must wage war against the epidemic, but that war will be unlike any other war that youth have fought before. The enemy has crept unnoticed into communities and households, and the silent killer is waging war from within.
Through the World Programme of Action for Youth, the United Nations must urgently elaborate a strategy for its battle plan, seek the assistance of allies, recruit, train and equip troops and allocate enough resources to engage and destroy the enemy. The United Nations remains our strongest ally in this war. It should also allocate more resources to that war and remain determined in helping youth emerge victorious.
From my statement, it is clear that HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving our goals in the World Programme of Action for Youth, as well as the overall development of the youth. While Lesotho has made tremendous progress in its efforts to provide the fundamental elements needed to improve livelihoods, young people face considerable development challenges, primarily due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In a country with one of the highest infection rates, now estimated at approximately 30 per cent, the youth of Lesotho are facing an unprecedented challenge. The pandemic, combined with deep-rooted poverty and food insecurity, is causing a new kind of vulnerability, affecting almost every young person in Lesotho. The consequence is a gradual undermining of the social and economic fabric that makes up the society of Lesotho. The pandemic has a great effect on youth, weakening family and social coping mechanisms.
Youth are in crisis. That complex crisis can be seen in its negative impact on youth development, and in particular on the realization of the World Programme of Action for Youth. However, the socio-political climate now prevailing in most developing countries provides a real opportunity to effectively address youth development challenges such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty and hunger, unemployment, globalization and gender equality.
For us in the developing countries, the idea of achieving the goals of the World Programme of Action for Youth is just a dream. Our dream can be made a reality through further support and investment from the United Nations and developed countries. Today, we young people live in a world that you adults and our forefathers have made. Tomorrow, you will live in a world that we will make. When you make decisions, think of the world in which you would like to live in the future. Our crisis can be turned into an opportunity. Young people, let us all rally to the battle cry and make a difference.
UN Doc.: A/60/PV.28