- Over the past year, sustained military offensives by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force and the Somali government may have dealt a devastating blow to al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group that had controlled much of southern Somalia since late 2008. Recent elections that brought educator and activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to power have even ushered in hope that Somalia, long-considered the world’s most failed state, might finally be on the path to peace.
However, until the country finds a way to integrate and empower a generation of Somalis that has known only conflict, experts warn Somalia will remain fertile ground for youth recruitment and radicalization by terrorist and criminal organizations. Young Somalis remain especially vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion, with severely limited access to education and employment. “The few who are being educated today may attend institutions that indoctrinate them into Islamic fundamentalism,” says the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Meanwhile, Somalia’s youth unemployment rate is an astounding 67 percent..