Why jobless youth are easy targets for demonstrations
The ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Kenya are taking a severe toll on the country’s jobless youth, putting their lives at risk and exacerbating the challenges of unemployment.
With the youth making up a significant 29.0 per cent of the population aged between 18 and 34 years, the lack of employment opportunities has left many feeling desperate and frustrated.
Reflecting on past episodes of civil unrest, such as the post-election violence in 2007/2008, the consequences of these protests can be devastating.
During that period, more than 1200 people lost their lives, thousands were injured, and over 300,000 individuals were internally displaced.
Many victims continue to grapple with the trauma even today, with some unable to recover fully.
In the current demonstrations, unemployed youth living in slum areas are among those who may be tempted to join the protests, further endangering their lives.
Slums like Mathare, Kibera, and Mukuru have witnessed excessive force being used by law enforcement during protests, leading to the loss of innocent lives, including children and women.
The vulnerable situation of the unemployed youth makes them easy targets for violence during these demonstrations.
The recent anti-government protests, spearheaded by the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition, have shed light on the desperate situation faced by the country’s young people.
The coalition’s demands for a lower cost of living have been interpreted by some as economic sabotage, resulting in the closure of numerous businesses and further worsening the economic hardships.
During the recent demonstrations, clashes between Azimio la Umoja supporters and the police have been reported in various parts of the country.
In Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare slums, youths engaged in running battles with law enforcement, while in Kitengela, police officers patrolled the streets to disperse protesting groups.
The toll of the demonstrations has been significant, with five people reported killed in different regions, including Nairobi, Makueni (Emali), Nakuru, Migori, and Kisumu (Nyamasaria).
Additionally, 38 injuries were reported, with gunshots being the cause of some of them. Arrests have also been made, totalling 300 individuals detained in various regions.
As the demonstrations continue, the nation faces the challenge of finding a balance between addressing the protesters’ concerns and maintaining peace and stability. The hope remains that peaceful dialogue and effective measures will be taken to address the pressing issues faced by the country’s young population.