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Young volunteers help promote China-Africa ties

By Cheng Si | | Updated: 2022-12-05 12:42
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Youths from Chinese and African regions have made continuous efforts to promote China-Africa partnerships by organizing voluntary events in sectors including education, healthcare and the green economy.

On Friday, a two-day forum opened in Beijing focusing on strengthening China-Africa partnerships by uniting young volunteers.

Xu Xiao, vice-president of the All-China Youth Federation and president of the Chinese Young Volunteers Association, said at the opening ceremony of the forum held online that Chinese and African youths have contributed to youth development by deepening cooperation between their respective youth organizations and encouraging young people to promote common values, including peace, development, fairness and freedom.

"We youth organizations have organized programs such as work skills training and have offered voluntary services to African countries and regions, helping fulfill their youths' practical needs," he said.

According to Xu, China had over 90 million registered volunteers from ages 14 to 35 by the end of 2021 who have not only played important roles in domestic affairs such as rural vitalization and emergency rescue efforts, but have also been actively involved in socioeconomic growth in developing Africa nations.

Furthermore, nearly 110 million youths over age 15 serve as volunteers in African nations every month, proportionately more than in Europe, central Asia and Latin America.

"Volunteer services are playing a much more important role in the sustainable development of China and Africa, especially by reducing unemployment and poverty and offering higher quality education and rescue services," Xu said.

Ibrahima Sory Sylla, Senegal's ambassador to China, said at the opening ceremony that Africa's economic development is hampered by various problems, including a lack of agricultural productivity and an imbalance of labor skills and market demands. He added that China, on the other hand, is doing well with both and also has sound volunteer service policies.

Sylla said that African people really appreciate the work that Chinese volunteers have done in the sectors of healthcare, education and social relief in Africa.

He added that China and Africa have some commonalities in the volunteer sector, and both also face challenges in areas such as poverty reduction and food security. He said he hoped the two sides can work together to develop comprehensive strategic partnerships.

Shalina Miah, manager of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of UN Volunteers, said during the ceremony that the UN has deployed around 12,063 volunteers this year. More than half either served or are serving in African countries, and nearly 1,800 served or are serving in Asia and the Pacific region.

"Volunteerism is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, and we are proud of the long history of the partnership with our Chinese partners since 1981 for friendly and fruitful strategic cooperation," Miah said. "Today's world gives us a glimpse of unprecedented challenges we will likely deal with through joint efforts only. Climate crisis, food security, inequalities and gender disparities throughout inflow that we as volunteers need to work together to find common and sustainable solutions."

Figures cited from the UN Volunteers program show that one-third of the world's youths are serving as volunteers, and as of October, China has over 229 million of them.

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