Malagasy capital acts to stem youth violence

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afrol News, 29 January - In a move not connected to the ungoing uprisings in Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, UN agencies and the city's authorities are launching a US$ 554,000 project to fight the growing youth criminality. Meanwhile, the general strike in the capital goes on, paralysing all businesses. 

In Antananarivo 28 per cent of the population lives in poverty, and delinquency and violent acts among young people have doubled in the last five years. The public has increasingly feared for its safety.

The city's authorities, lead by the popular mayor and presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana, and UN agencies are now mobilising volunteers to help prevent delinquency and violence among young people. 

The two-year project recently launched is to be carried out in cooperation with United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the UN development agency (UNDP) in two districts of the city: Andohatapenaka and Anatihazo. Experts believe poverty has a direct impact on youth delinquency. 

According to information released by UNDP, the project will station 27 national UN Volunteers from Madagascar in the neighborhoods, along with two international UN Volunteers, "to work with young people and set up activities to offer them alternatives to help discourage delinquency." 

- The poor are the main victims of urban violence, said, Adama Guindo, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator. "Reducing crime, the goal of the project, fits perfectly within the framework of the battle against poverty," he told UNDP. 

Ensuring public safety is increasing viewed as an essential element in promoting socio-economic development at the community level, according to the UN agency. The initiative is based on recommendations of a study on urban insecurity in the capital carried out by the UNDP and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). 

Although a number of organisations are working on various aspects of violence prevention, including community groups and United Nations agencies, the study found little coordination among these efforts. "Improving such coordination is thus a focus of the project," UNDP informs. 

General strike
Meanwhile, the current situation in the Malagasy capital is preventing the implementation of any UN projects. Mayor Marc Ravalomanana, claiming he was elected Malagasy President on 18 December, has been leading protesting crowds of up to 500,000 people through Antananarivo's streets the last days and has initiated a general strike.

Guindo today onformed from Anatananarivo that the protracted dispute and fears of violence have prompted the UN to restrict staff travel to and within the country. Guindo said "security phase one" had been declared in Madagascar - meaning that all visiting UN staff need security clearance from the UNDP before entering the country.

Guindo further confirmed that businesses, shops and schools were affected by the strike. He said today again, about half-a-million protesters marched on buildings used by state radio and television to pressure officials to reflect the opposition's campaign more fairly and accurately. No violence in connection with the manifestations had been reported

Sources: Based on UN sources and afrol archives 

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