Youth speak out on community security in the Eastern Terai: Reflections from Morang and Sunsari consultations

This paper aims to summarise the key community security concerns and issues that were voiced by youth and student groups in consultations carried out in Sunsari and Morang districts between the 25th September and the 5th November 2007.

Young people comprise nearly 30% of the overall population of Nepal, yet youth voices have largely been excluded from arenas of debate and decision-making fora.

This has resulted in a general failure on the part of the Government to recognise the particular needs and experiences of different groups of young people and reflect these in policy making. Almost 12 years of violent conflict have had a profound effect upon young people in Nepal. Unemployment has increased and the ability of the state to deliver basic services has been significantly weakened. Now facing a lack of educational and economic opportunities, young people are disillusioned, frustrated and angry.

Young people in the eastern Terai, including Morang and Sunsari, have particular, shared experiences of the changing dynamics and impacts of conflict. Ongoing violence in this region has meant that young people in the eastern Terai have yet to experience the benefits of peace and continue to experience the frustrations of living in conflict. Disillusioned youth in this region represent a fertile recruitment ground for new and emerging radicalised groups. Unable to get their voices heard through non-violent means, a growing minority of young people are resorting to violent protest.

This project aims to address the exclusion of youth from forums for dialogue, particularly around the national peace process, by understanding and strengthening youth voices on community security needs and perspectives across different identity lines in Eastern Terai.