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Message to the youth: “I would like to send a message to Myanmar migrants living abroad. The situation in Myanmar is now improving, please come back and share with us your knowledge, skills and experience.” Youth participant International Youth Day, Myanmar.

Yangon__ Three hundred youth from different parts of the country gathered in Yangon, Myanmar to take part in International Youth Day celebrations on 12 August, 2013. This year’s theme centered on “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward,” which is a key issue facing young people in Myanmar. 

The event was opened by Janet Jackson, UNFPA's Myanmar Representative, who emphasized the important link between youth, migration and development, and Professor Kyam Myint Naing, President of the Myanmar Medical Association, who outlined the role of youth in Myanmar and youth related activities, which are jointly implemented by UNFPA and the Youth Development Programme in Myanmar. 

“For young people, the decision to migrate often happens as they transition to adulthood - a young person trying to make the best of life. Migration is mostly about young people going to where they believe that better possibilities can be explored; more avenues of opportunities could open up, so that they could be able to fulfill their full potential. Young people hope and aspire to be part of moving development forward,” Ms. Jackson said. 

A first time ever nation-wide live televised open debate between youth on the topic of “youth migration” was held. This kind of activity would have been unthinkable only a couple of years ago, and was a further testimony to Myanmar opening up considerably. 

The televised debate consisted of a team of two panels focused on a “for” and “against” migration and guests in the audience were able to add their views too. In addition, a hotline number for youth all over the country to call in was set up. Members from Myanmar's Medical Association, national celebrities and Dr. Than Soe, UNFPA National Programme Associate, participated as part of the judging panel. 

“We need to care about all the youth as we will be the future leaders. We have lots of knowledge and need to know how to use it,” said Mya Kyu, a female youth participant. 

“If we don’t move we will stay in the same situation and not improve our skill set… We are strong, brave and powerful, and we must use these emotions in a positive way now as when we are older, we may not be able to,” She added. 

Other events marking the International Youth Day included a theatre performance by a youth development programme focusing on migration, local youth dancers highlighting a “HIV free generation” including a photo exhibition raising awareness on health education for adolescence and young people, skills development training for the Myanmar youth and empowerment of young people.

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