Afghanistan celebrated International Youth Day on Thursday with a large, free outdoor concert in Bamyan. Over 7,000 people of all ages came together to listen to over a dozen acts by Afghan musicians from around the globe and speeches from provincial leaders. The event was organized by UNAMA, the United Nations Assistance Missions in Afghanistan, and last about four hours.

via Internews Network on flickr

via Internews Network on flickr

Bamyan’s Deputy Governor, Asif Mubaligh, focused on education in his speech to the crowd. “Focus more on education to garner medals and other accomplishments,” he said. Habiba Sarabi, provincial Governor, spoke about the importance of youth engagement, emphasizing that “young people today belong to the largest generation of youtrh the world has known.” In Afghanistan, two-thirds of the estimated population of 27 million are young people.

“I call on the government, the private sector, civil society, and academia,” said UNAMA’s head for western Afghanistan, Andrew McGregor, “to keep the doors wide open for young people.” He expressed hopes that young people would grow to be democratic leaders and productive Afghan citizens.

The UN General Assembly declared August 12 International “Youth Day in 1999. It was first observed in 2002.

Media Resources: UNAMA News, 8/15/2013