Non-Aligned Movement has called on the developing world to formulate an effective response strategy to the COVID-19 crisis, which has affected not only affected the health sector but has also resulted in a social and economic crisis. NAM has adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 which calls for supporting the efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has called on the increasing role of youths in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the WHO, young people represent the future of health and other professions. Despite social distancing measures in many countries, they have united with peers from across the globe to drive positive change through the cumulative impacts of their small acts of empathy.

During this unprecedented global crisis, they have shown their ability to catalyse collaboration across professional boundaries and overcome silos, to create communities of best practice acrossborders from scratch, and to constantly learn from oneanother. As the world gradually overcomes the pandemic, and today’s generation of students and young professionals move forward in their careers and assume leadership roles, they will continue to draw on their sense of purpose, solidarity and new perspectives gained during the current crisis, and to make valuable ongoing contributions to improving and protecting health in their own communities and globally.

The African Union (AU), most of its Member States sharing the ideology of NAM, has devised the African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Pandemic along with the establishment of the Africa Taskforce for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR), One of the important tenets of this Strategic Plan is the focus on youth as a significant protective factor in the pandemic. This is on account of Africa’s demographic structure, as the median age of the 1.3 billion population in Africa is 19.7 years.

In May 2020, the African Union Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi joined hands with the AU Commissioner of Social Affairs, H.E. Amira Elfadil, and AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science, and Technology (HRST), H.E. Prof. Sarah MbiEnow Anyang to launch the African Youth Front on Coronavirus that aims to create a platform for youth to contribute to the implementation of African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Pandemic. Applauding the critical role played by youth in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa, H.E. Amira Elfadil stressed on the need for “the young generation take up their place in the digital frontlines and share innovative ways to respond to the pandemic, taking the lead in engaging their peers, communities, and governments”.

In a similar vein, AU Commissioner, H.E Prof. Sarah Anyang remarked: “It’s also very important that the African Union Member States engage youth in the fight against COVID-19. When those policies are being made please bring youth, when the health sector meet please bring young proficiencies into the conversation, so that together we will beat COVID-19 hands down. The Future is us only if we can harness the demographic dividend through the investment in the youth of Africa”.

The group is an African Union framework that will engage African youth in decision-making and a seat at the table to contribute youth-led solutions and co-lead Africa’s response to the pandemic. The objectives of the African Youth Front on Coronavirus are as follows: 1) Organize, mobilize and unite youth and grassroots civil society actors ; 2) Convene and facilitate the Virtual AU Youth Consultations Series on COVID-19 to regularly inform, brief and engage youth constituencies and address the needs of especially marginalized youth; and 3) Support advocacy and implementation of Africa CDC communication strategy, the African Continental Strategic Plan for COVID-19 and the work of the six working groups of AFCOR.

The African Youth Front aligns with the AUC’s 1 Million by 2021 Initiative, which seeks to provide opportunities for African youth in the areas of employment, education, entrepreneurship and engagement (4Es). Under the engagement pillar, the initiative seeks to create meaningful platforms for youth to contribute to the response to the pandemic and provides an opportunity for youth-led advocacy.

Through the creation of the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, the AU has become the first intergovernmental organization to create a high-level policy and advocacy framework for young people to co-lead Africa’s response to the pandemic.

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