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UNHCR gifts Eastern Equatoria State with Multipurpose Youth Centers

By Gladys Fred Kole


In a gesture for youth empowerment, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has gifted Eastern Equatoria State with two cutting-edge, multi-purpose youth centres.

With a dual mission to support both returnees and host community youth, these centres serve as vital hubs for fostering digital connectivity and knowledge exchange for young people.

UNHCR and partners inaugurated the two multipurpose youth centres in a handover ceremony to the state government in Torit and Magwi over the weekend.

The Eastern Equatoria state government warmly expressed its gratitude for the invaluable gifts for their youths, emphasizing its steadfast commitment to advancing the initiatives already set in motion.

The Deputy Governor, Mary Alphonse Lodira, expressed profound satisfaction, highlighting the thoughtful importance of the newly established youth centres as more than mere spaces for internet access.

She underscored the transformative potential the centers hold to inspire and empower countless young minds across the state.

“I want to tell the youths that it is time to use the youth center in a more appropriate way so that you advance the future of this country,” she stated.

“Once people entrust you with this kind of facility, it is actually for you to think about the future in the next five to ten years and where you are going,” Mrs. Lodira told the youths.

“It is up to us now to move this center forward, and it is not going to remain like this; we are going to scratch our heads,” she said. “When somebody brings you something, you must also improve on it; if you lay back and say things will come when things don’t come, you will wait forever.”

For her part, the state minister of culture, youth, and sports, Hon. Magret Idwa Okuye, said that the youth are going to work hard so that they can produce other centers that will extend the services to other counties.

“We have 8 counties, and these are only two centers provided. Youth are coming in large numbers. We are grateful for the work you have done in your capacity, but we, as the government, will also continue substituting. We have a role. We will not end here.” Idwa stated

Kelly T. Clements, the deputy high commissioner for UNHCR, said, against the prevailing international perceptions, the government and the local authorities in Eastern Equatoria state have exhibited remarkable displays of commitment, diverging from common misconceptions about the country.

“Over 123,000 people are coming back to help rebuild South Sudan with hopes, dreams, and skills with a perception of what the country can be, and that is why, for us as UNHCR, a youth center is important not just because of what it may enable you to do for yourself and for this community but also because of what it represents in terms of the future of these countries,” Kelly expressed.

She said when their time to leave comes, they want to tell the international community about the potential of South Sudan.

“We want to talk about the skills the youth have to rebuild their country, and that’s an important perception for us in terms of why we are supporting you. Just a little bit of support to get you going,” she underscored.

The UNHCR official acknowledged the abilities and skills of the many already educated youth, adding that the South Sudanese youth have very clear visions of what they want for their community and country at large.

“Everywhere I go in the world and region, the South Sudanese youths that I talk to are filled with possibility, vision for the future, and ambition, and so we want you to use a center like this to fulfill that ambition,” Kelly emphasized.

Meanwhile, Diana Janse, state secretary of the Swedish Embassy in South Sudan, reiterated that it’s up to the youth and the state now to make use of these new spaces.

“As for anything that is not yet in place, I hope that you do not see this as something that is finished, but there’s always something there to do better to develop, and that is never ready,” Janse said.

She noted that it’s obvious that supporting humanitarian work is not enough, but they need to provide opportunities for moving beyond that for long-term development.

“We need to invest in the youth more than anything else; the government here needs to invest in its youth,” Janse continued. “It’s in your hands, so it’s your future, and we are really glad that we could make it this far.”

The youth representatives of Torit and Magwi counties appreciated UNHCR for gifting them with the multipurpose centers, terming it the place of their own interest.

Both Torit and Magwi youth multipurpose centers received fifteen computer desktops with a room for hosting activities as well.

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