The United Nations Country Director Bernard Mokam has said that “…the increasing number of unemployed and marginalized young men and women added to Sierra Leone’s instability in the past and may seriously compromise the country’s development efforts.” In his statement during the recently concluded annual youth consultative conference, Mr Mokam explained that youth unemployment vary widely with some estimates indicating that about one third of the total population is youth, of whom more than 60% are unemployed. “This would represent one of the highest rates in the world,” he noted. He pointed out that “with life expectancy rapidly declining to as low as 45 years due mainly to HIV and AIDS, the youth are now, or will become the dominant group in society, most affected by change and also the most likely agents of change.” At the global level, the UNDP country director maintained, “there are about one billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 years, or about 17 % of the total world population of over 6 billion. By virtue of their numbers, the limited economic opportunities and skills deficiencies, poverty is increasingly becoming a youth phenomenon. Demographic, cultural, social and economic factors associated with those living in poverty often combine to present young men and women with serious challenges in creating sustainable livelihoods.” “The exact circumstances facing youth around the world varies widely. Yet there are many common themes. As a specific demographic group young men and women are often marginalized in society, resulting in limited access to resources, education, land and technology, and little or no interaction with formal institutions. Their cultural and social position and lack of skills, knowledge and institutional support often makes them vulnerable to prostitution, early wedlock and child-bearing, and HIV and AIDS,” Mr Mokam accentuated. He explained that “it is evident that Sierra Leone prolonged civil conflict has negatively impacted on the youth. The social, education and economic networks and institutions of youth disintegrated giving rise to conditions which pose a serious threats to the country’s stability, and which the new youth policy must begin to address. Some of these conditions include deprivation and abject poverty; lack of access to sources of livelihoods; expansion of organized crime; the high level of unemployment; lack of educational opportunities; increase in narcotics and alcohol abuse; prevalence of a culture of violence; feelings of disaffection, disempowerment and disconnection from the political processes, and so on. Unless these issues are addressed in a systematic and coherent manner, an air of despondency and resignation may set in at best, or at worst they may resort to criminal activities or violence. In this respect, it is youth with their unique needs and concerns, who will either sustain peace or generate further instability,” maintained Mr Mokam.