News / Africa

Algeria's Large Youth Population Has Few Opportunities

Young Algerians on Rue Didouche Mourad
Young Algerians on Rue Didouche Mourad

Walk down Rue Didouche Mourad - a bustling auto route lined with colonial-era buildings that winds its way toward the Algiers port - and this is what you will see: groups of children heading home from school; young girls, some with headscarves, others bareheaded, mobile phones glued to their ears; young men hanging out in cafes; a street population that is overwhelmingly young.

This is the face of Algeria. Seven out of 10 people in this North African country are less than 25 years old. These youths should be the country's wealth. But are they?

No, says Imad Boubekri, youth coordinator for the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights. At least, that is not the way they are seen.

Boubekri says few jobs are available for young Algerians. There is a collective anguish among the youth population here, sparking a string of self-immolations mirroring neighboring Tunisia, where the death of a young man who set himself on fire triggered a powerful revolt that toppled the country's longtime president.

But while there was rioting over high food prices in January and an ongoing series of scattered protests for disparate causes, young people here have failed to catalyze - much less lead - the kinds of national revolts against authoritarian governments witnessed in other Arab countries.

Riot police blocking a teachers strike for better benefits in Algiers
Riot police blocking a teachers strike for better benefits in Algiers

Consider a protest last weekend in Algiers by part-time school teachers demanding benefits. Mohammed Shekalel, a teacher in his late '20s who works at a school about 80 kilometers away, was among them. The protest, he said, had nothing to do with demands for political reform.

"We don't speak about politics because we don't belong to any political party. We [want] our rights concerning our jobs," said Shekalel.

Algerian students have also been protesting in front of the education ministry to demand a better recognition of their university diplomas. But again, their calls have yet to gain a political edge.

Still, youth activist Boubekri believes it is only a question of time.

Boubekri says Algeria's economic, political and social situation is very precarious. He has no doubt it will lead to a social explosion.

Boubekri was among the organizers of a youth march announced on the Internet social network Facebook last weekend aimed to demand major political reforms. Only a few dozen young people showed up, and every time they tried to gather police broke them up.

Unlike neighboring Tunisia, where Cyberspace helped drive the political revolt, the Internet has failed to galvanize the youth here.

On Didouche Mourade street, 16-year-old Ilias Fouial says he is not interested in participating in the political protests.

Ilias says that is the opposition party. His friends are not involved with that.

Is he interested in politics?

Not really, Ilias says. He is interested in sports.

That is not to say that youths have not been key members of anti-government protests that have rippled across the country in recent weeks.

But youth leader Boubekri says Algeria has one striking characteristic that other protest-roiled Arab countries do not have; the fallout of a bloody civil war in the 1990s that killed upwards of 100,000 people and continues to traumatize Algerians. It has put political militancy on hold.

But today, says Said Saadi, head of the opposition RDC party, a whole new generation of young people is growing up with little memory of the 1990s conflict.

Still, Saadi says, these young people remain barred from any kind of political participation. Young people are not going to mobilize if they do not get help and training - if there is no political dynamic to motivate them.

Communications Minister Nacer Mahel describes a series of measures the government is introducing to improve opportunities for Algeria's youth. They include incentives to get young people into farming and to start their own businesses.

Mahel says the government is aware it needs to establish better lines of communication with young people and get them involved in the political process.

Youth activist Boubekri is also planning to get young people more involved politically. He outlines plans to get youth mobilized, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Boubekri says political activists like himself are telling young people not to listen to the political establishment.  He says it is up to them to change Algeria and they need to follow their convictions.

You May Like

Photogallery US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid