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Leading youth organization urges stakeholders to tackle root causes of the August 10 disaster

Chozen Generation Sierra Leone (CGSL), one of Sierra Leone’s leading youth organisation has called for calm and urged the governmentto probe further and address underlying issues that resulted in the recent violence and killing the in the country.

On August 10, youths from the eastern part of the capital Freetown, and in some areas in the Northeast and Northwestern region of the country came out to demonstrate and clashed with police officers. Four officers are reported dead. No official figure yet for the civilians who died, but unconfirmed reports suggest the number is way above 20.

In its International Youth Day message on Friday 12thAugust, 2022, the youth- leadership organizations saidthey are in great distressed over the tragedy’ and spared a moment to mourn compatriots.

We condemn violence in every form and believe it is by no means an option for a solution to anything,” the statement reads wrote.

According to the CGSL, the protest and consequences thereof are symptoms of many complex and diverse underlying issues affecting young people. Whilst urging government to investigate, they argued that referring the August 10 incident as ‘a result of political machination only is lazy and unhelpful.’

‘’we know for sure that in the midst of hardship and loss of hope, youths were caught up between expressing their genuine concerns and being used as pawns by selfish politicians, they noted

We are concerned that operatives of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party have routinely whipped up tribal and regional sentiments to widen the divide and promote violence with a usuallycatastrophic outcome especially for young people,’’

CGSL noted youths can become more and contribute more if they are given the platform to learn and express themselves.

‘We believe that, given Sierra Leone’s high youth population, the high levels of unemployment and the harsh economic climate have always created a potentially fertile opportunity for chaos,’’ CGSL noted.

To the careful observer, the signs had been obvious and persistent. The cost of living is at an all-time high, pushing many Sierra Leoneans, especially young people further into poverty.

CGSL believes to exacerbate an already tense and volatile situation, the government has been slow, unable or unwilling to provide timely and adequate information to its citizens creating a communication asymmetry that has been exploited by rogue elements.

‘’We, therefore, conclude by submitting that the blame for Sierra Leone’s current fragility should by all of us,   not just those desperate , drug-induced, politically manipulated youths. The blood of all the innocent lives lost are in our hands –every government official or civil servant who steal state resources and deprives millions of Sierra Leoneans of a decent life; every business owner who hoards goods and services, creating unbearable hardship for the most vulnerable citizens; every Sierra Leonean who creates and /or share dangerously false, inciteful and divisive content on social media and indeed every citizen who keeps a deafening silence in the face of these,’’

The group however called on every youth to be law-abiding and peaceful, adding they believe there is still space to express their concerns within the confines of the law as no retribution or mourning is enough to compensate for a lost life.

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Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Ishmael Sallieu Koroma is a multi – award-winning journalist and contributor at Salone Messenger based in Sierra Leone. He started his career in journalism in 2011 and has worked for both print and broadcast media He is the winner for the 2020 Merck Foundation Stay at “Home Media Award” bagging first position for the Print Category in West Africa with an award value of $500. Ishmael was among ten journalist that won the 2017 United States of America (USA) Embassy in Freetown Media fellowship Grant of $350 for the submission of a story idea titled ”The Rise of Social Media and its effect on Freedom of Expression in Sierra Leone. During the 2018 elections , Ishmael was a frequent interview host for the Senegal based West African Democracy Radio updating their global audience on Sierra Leone’s election , the unfolding events during and after the process of the most crucial election in the former British West African nation. Ishmael is the correspondent in Sierra Leone for the Efe- Spain’s International News Agency based in Madrid and writes extensively on different beats from Breaking news, news feature,articles among others. Also he writes as a freelance journalist with Pan African Visions online , a US based news platform whose aim is to write African stories to an International audience . Koroma has been contracted by leading media institution in the world and has worked on several projects and most recently with the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) and the Transitional Justice Legacy Fund (ATJLF) based in Ghana on a six- month Project doing transitional Justice stories in Sierra Leone. Koroma has appeared on so many platforms including the State broadcaster -The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC)’s Podium Program and Freetown Television Network (FTN) and on Africa Young Voices Television (AYV TV) in Sierra Leone. Ishmael has interviewed many great personalities including former Nigerian President Good luck Jonathan, former Ghanian President John Daramani Mahama ,world environmental icon Dr. Jane Goodall , Sierra Leone’s Anti – Corruption Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq , President Julius Maada Bio among others. He has so much interest in writing health stories , development and human interest stories with an human right angle. He is an active blogger, social commentator and writes extensively on different topics including economic , human rights and social issues among other areas. Ishmael is the current Vice President of the Sierra Leone Reporters Union(SLRU) in the country. He is a Merck Foundation Alumni member.

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