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Forty five (45) faith leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region including Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Uruguay have affirmed their commitment to protecting children in the digital world. Participants met in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the 4th Pre-Event Workshop on 11th – 12th September 2018 ahead of the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities Global Forum scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) in November 2018. The workshop, which was organized by Arigatou International-GNRC in LAC in partnership with UNICEF, Plan International and the NGO Coalition for Children and with support from the U.A.E Government, deliberated on the challenges of online violence against children (including online child sexual exploitation) in the LAC region, and advocated for sustainable solutions to the problem.

Arigatou International officials, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and Director, Arigatou International – Nairobi, together with Ms. Rebeca Rios Kohn, Director, Arigatou International – New York and Prayer and Action for Children, have been nominated to serve on the Faith-based Advisory Council to UN Inter-Agency Taskforce on Religion. They were nominated by members of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force.

Education is central to development. It is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty, better understand and improve their health, create sustainable livelihoods and obtain the means to participate more fully in their communities. It has been proven that education is a great driver of social, economic and political progress; as people learn to read, count and reason critically, their prospects for health and prosperity expand. Hence, when children have an access to education, it furthers their opportunities, providing knowledge and skills, preparing them for employment and entrepreneurship, and shapes their worldview. Education is perhaps the most adaptable tool for unlocking resources required to address poverty and its crippling effects. Knowledge gives children the power to dream of a better future and the confidence needed to pursue a full education, which in turn will help generations to come.

A special tour to the United Nations Office, Nairobi was organized by Arigatou International – Nairobi on the 7th of September 2018 for the youth participants to the Regional Peace Programme (RPP) forum. A total of sixty three (63) participants; from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Somali, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya participated in the activity. The tour was an opportunity for participants to get to see and understand the role of young people as key agents of social change, economic growth and technological innovation. Moreover, participants got to also understand how the United Nations acts as a peacebuilding platform and an inter-dialogue tool for countries.

“Every child has the right to survive and thrive in life. As a community, we owe them that – a life free of violence. It is possible through safeguarding our media platforms against radicalization and violent extremism.” This was echoed throughout the Youth In Action – 3rd Regional Youth Forum on Peacebuilding held on 3rd – 8th September 2018 in Machakos, Kenya. Sixty four (64) participants including youth leaders and youth influencers attended the youth-led event under the theme, ‘Media and Preventing Violent Extremism.’ The youth benefited greatly from facilitators and experts in the area of peace, partners, resource persons and Arigatou International – Nairobi staff. Participants were drawn from Eastern Africa region specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

A children and youth led panel discussion was organized by GNRC–Pakistan, led by Search For Justice and other partners including Child Rights Movement Punjab and Pakistan Girl Guides Association. The event took place during this years’ International World Youth Day on 12th August 2018. The discussion focused on pushing the Punjab Government to establish effective platforms in schools, colleges and communities where children and youth can exercise their right to expression without fear.

Radicalization into violent extremism is a serious problem affecting Kenya. In the recent years, there have been several terrorist attacks in several parts of the country with an increased number of youth and children falling victim. Isiolo is one the regions affected by violent extremism. This is due to the town’s proximity to the Somalia border with occasional issues of ethnic conflict, marginalization (whether real or perceived), remoteness of the region, high number of unemployed youth, unaddressed historical injustices, poor relationship between the public and security organs, among others.