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SARAJEVO - 12 August 2010 - Today, on the International Day of Youth, and every day, young people are searching for opportunities to pursue and fulfill their dreams. Like their peers across the globe, the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina yearn for new knowledge, skills and opportunities to develop to their fullest potential. They constitute almost one quarter of total of the country’s population.

While many people say that youth are the future, it is time to embrace their leadership today. Young people are natural leaders. They are lading the use of new technology networks, creating and speaking out for change. They are challenging traditional roles and paving way for equity and equality of the 21st Century. In Bosnia and Herzegovina young people are successfully advocating for HIV prevention, for elimination of gender based violence.

Around forty four per cent of young people in the country are unemployed. Many young people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are showing interest to leave the country for the better future.

The sad truth is that too many young people are growing up with few opportunities, trying to keep up hope for the future. Young people continue to lack full realization of their human rights. As we commemorate the International Youth Day, it is time to renew efforts to make young people a priority.

At UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, we are promoting the participation and leadership of young people. We are promoting life-skills education and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, and HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for young people. And we are working to empower young women, including adolescent girls, and to prevent gender-based violence.

Today, as we launch the International Year of Youth, on the eve of the World Youth Conference in Mexico, we are calling on decision makers in Bosnia and Herzegovina to listen to the needs of young people and to respond to them.

“We encourage the government to deepen meaningful dialogues with young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina to enhance a mutual understanding on how to jointly address the development challenges facing us. We call for partnership across generations to fulfill the promise of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals to create a more prosperous environment for youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, says Mr. Faris Hadrovic, UNFPA BiH Assistant Representative.