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Pope’s new year message, urges action on youth unemployment

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Pope Francis in his new year message urged leaders to do more to tackle youth unemployment, saying a generation was being lost to desperation, migration and joblessness.

At his last public event of 2016, an evening vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, the 80-year-old Francis said doors had to be opened for young people “so that they can be capable of dreaming and fighting for their dreams”.

“We have condemned our young people to have no place in society, because we have slowly pushed them to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist or fail to promise them a future,” he said.

“We have condemned our young people to have no place in society, because we have slowly pushed them to the margins of public life.”

Youth joblessness in Italy stands at more than 36 percent and tops 18 percent among the 28 European Union states.

According to the International Labour Organization, In Africa, the continent with the world’s youngest population, youth unemployment probably increased in 2016, and was near 30 percent in North Africa,

“Looking at the manger challenges us to help our young people not to become disillusioned by our own immaturity, and to spur them on so that they can be capable of dreaming and fighting for their dreams, capable of growing and becoming fathers and mothers of our people,” the pope said.

Poverty and lack of opportunity in Africa is driving migration, particularly to Europe. Almost 5,000 men, women and children died attempting to reach Europe by boat from North Africa in 2016.

Among the more than 181,000 boat migrants mostly African – who reached Italy in 2016, 25,000 were unaccompanied minors.

On January 1, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will say a Mass to mark the Church’s World Day of Peace.

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