Syrian children ‘easy prey’ for terror recruiters

Syrian children ‘easy prey’ for terror recruiters
A young boy stands between destroyed houses in the northern Syrian town of Azaz. (AFP)
Updated 27 March 2017

Syrian children ‘easy prey’ for terror recruiters

Syrian children ‘easy prey’ for terror recruiters

THE DEAD SEA, Jordan: The 2.8 million Syrian children deprived of an education are highly vulnerable to terrorist recruiters, the Arab League secretary-general warned on Sunday.
“This is a serious challenge to address,” Ahmed Aboul Gheit said. “Leaving this vulnerable group uncared for makes them an easy prey to terrorist organizations.”
Aboul Gheit was addressing the Economic and Social Council’s preparatory ministerial meeting, ahead of Wednesday’s Arab Summit in Jordan.
“The armed conflicts that have been plaguing our region pose a serious threat to our economic growth. Confronting this threat has become a burden, which makes it incumbent on all countries to join efforts to confront this problem,” he said.
“The Arab population constitutes nearly 5 percent of the world population while the Arab refugees stand at more than 50 percent of the overall number of refugees worldwide,” he stressed.
“We should not just sit and wait for others to solve our problems; rather, we should take the initiative and address the challenges facing our peoples, and address their needs.”
Arab economic policies apply some of the toughest strategies in the world, he said. Joint efforts must be exerted to encourage pan-Arab investment and create jobs, to address growing unemployment rates among youth, Aboul Gheit said.
Arab citizens still feel insecure and have no faith in the future, he added. They suffer under economic pressure triggered by the international economic challenges, compounded by low oil prices, Aboul Gheit said.
“Low productivity, failure to attract foreign investments as well as the high consumption rates and the poor social-care policies for the low-income groups in the society are among the most urgent issues that need to be addressed,” he said.
The official said that one-third of the Arab population is aged 15 to 29, amounting to around 100 million individuals.
Arab policies “are yet to utilize this large mass of human resources, which is the most educated and the most open-minded segment of the local communities,” he said. This group “has very high potential and should be used in the best possible way in order to transform it from consumers to productive members.”
About 29 percent of the Arab youth are jobless, he said, adding that recent UN reports show that nearly 60 million jobs are needed over the next decade to absorb the number of young people expected to join the labor market.
He warned that no development efforts could bear fruit unless they are coupled with a cultural and intellectual renaissance that will help counter terrorist, extremist ideologies, which “are our first enemy” and a “plague that digs deep in our societies and spreads sedition.”
Terrorist thought can only be faced in a comprehensive manner that works to stimulate the sense of patriotism and nationalism among individuals, said Aboul Gheit.
Echoing his concerns and pointing to the lack of economic progress, Jordan’s Minister of Trade and Industry Yarub Qudah said pan-Arab trade declined by 1.7 percent in 2016.
“The foreign direct investment in the Arab region has seen a sharp drop between 2010 and 2015, by 43 percent, amounting to $40 billion from $70 billion,” the Jordanian minister said in his address at the session.