Dispatch

20 August 2010

Youth Zones: Dealing with the Aftermath of Conflict or Natural Disasters

In conflicts and natural disasters around the world, young people, at a crucial stage of their development, are faced with profound challenges. Emergencies often steal their adolescence and force them to undertake adult responsibilities. The structures and institutions that should guarantee their secure, peaceful development – schools, family, community and health centres – have often broken down, leaving them with little, if any, support. Access to basic sexual and reproductive health services, including information on sexually transmitted infections and HIV, is often impossible.

Yet in the midst of hardship and deprivation, young people show tremendous resilience. They raise their younger siblings, form youth groups and organizations, put food on the table for their families, conduct peer education activities, contribute to peace movements, galvanize their communities and contribute in numerous other ways to positive change.

But many of their stories are never told, many of their voices are not heard.

However, a new film, Youth Zones, Voices from Emergencies, produced in association with UNFPA and the Women's Refugee Commission, documents the lives of young people affected by conflict and natural disaster in five countries.

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Russell, accompanied by spoken word poet Luke Nephew and youth activist Chernor Bah, facilitated discussions and conducted creative writing and poetry workshops with youth from Colombia, Lebanon, Liberia, Northern Uganda and New Orleans. The 25-minute film profiles youth who work as educators, peace activists, healthcare assistants and drama mentors in an effort to rehabilitate their communities after emergencies.

It is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Luo with English subtitles.