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Mauritanian activists discuss youth participation in crime

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A three-day workshop focusing on how to steer young people away from violent behaviour wrapped up in Nouakchott on Thursday (May 10th).

The forum was aimed at sharing opinions and experiences on the reality of youths who are susceptible to deviation in Mauritania. The seminar also drew attention to the conditions of youths lacking social care, particularly in terms of their susceptibility to embracing ideas of violence and extremism.

"The risks of upbringing and deviation that happens to most young people come from a certain direction they walked in because of the lack of alternative," according to Mohamed Vall Ould Youssef, director of the Centre for Care for Children in Conflict with Law, which organised the event with the US Embassy in Nouakchott.

He added that youths' upbringing "depends on inherited habits and traditions; something that makes young people feel lost and see only deviation and seek to join groups which he considers as alternative for their family".

"These risks include the emotional deprivation that this category suffers from at a certain stage in their family and social lives," Ould Youssef said. "The advice that they need at this stage can answer a lot of questions in young people's minds and can immunise them against the risks of deviation. Therefore, society and family play a major role in aggravating the problem, together with the media, scientific and educational life."

For his part, the US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Lane said that this "workshop which addresses certain topics, such as role of society in training young people and rescuing them from deviation, would provide participants with additional information on this topic, especially from US and Mauritanian trainers who will present the US experience in this field."

"The most important thing is the conditions under which children live and the place where they are located," Lane continued. "This is in addition to the psychological aspect and the atmosphere they live in. It's also important to identify problems that children suffer from. Some manifestations may deceive. We have to learn about the aspirations of children, their future projects and ambitions."

Ahmed Ould Ahl Daoud, a faqih concerned with combating religious deviation, told Magharebia: "there is no doubt that the result of this forum will be great for me. I have previously benefited from the experiences of the US during my visit to youth rehabilitation centres, and I learned about many experiences that are not available here."

"In addition, given my knowledge of the particularity of our region, we have acquired experiences that the Americans can benefit from. Therefore, co-operation is necessary for both sides," he said.

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"However, we agree on some of the causes that make young people deviate and disagree on some others," Ould Ahl Daoud added. "This is because these causes differ from one country to another. Yet, we will finally reach the most prominent possible solutions that are available now and that will be available in the future on the medium and long runs."

The workshop was a complementary experience for an exchange visit made to the US to rehabilitate young people, according to Zidan Ould Sidati, the director of physical sports at the youth ministry.

"We're attaching great hopes on these activities in drawing up plans and presenting the efforts that were made by the Mauritanian Ministry of Youth in opening a youth rehabilitation centre in Nouakchott districts after it was closed for the past 20 years," he added.

Al-Saniya Mint Sidi Ali, an association activist, said, "Children have special needs. Therefore, we shouldn't impose the things that they don't love on them so that they may be able to draw up a successful plan for their future."

This content was commissioned for Magharebia.com.

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