BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 10, CMC The United States, through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative is partnering with regional governments in an effort to stem crime and violence by focusing on at risk youths and vulnerable populations.

This is according to Christopher Cushing, the Mission Director for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, who was   delivering remarks on Thursday on behalf of Linda Taglialatela,the US Ambassador to Barbados, Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), during the opening ceremony for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative 8th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Crime Prevention .

Christopher Cushing
Christopher Cushing

He said the partnership will be done through programmes that will empower young people to lead better and more positive lives, which will redound to the benefit of the region in improving citizen security and creating more stable democracies.

“Since 2010, the U.S. Government, through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), has invested US$437 million, towards improving citizen security in the Caribbean and addressing the root causes of crime and violence. To date, more than 30,000 youth, across the region, have participated in CBSI education and work-force development programmes, with more than $50 million allocated to support these programmes, he said.

“The CBSI embodies our mutual commitment to greater shared security throughout the Caribbean. It is an initiative that works towards building the health, resiliency and safety of Caribbean countries, all important elements for sustained growth, prosperity and strong democracies in the Caribbean and the United States.”

Cushing noted the importance of the conference to the future development of youth and citizen security and said that the Technical Working Group is critical to advancing the said goal.

“Your discussions will continue to help shape the broader framework for action and bring sharper focus to the needs of the region’s youth,” added the mission director. “Over the next three days, I expect you will have robust exchanges in which you, as Caribbean leaders, learn from each other and international experts, and take the time to pause, reflect, generate new ideas, and identify concrete priorities to address challenges posed by transnational crime.”

He commented on the theme adopted for this year’s conference, which is: “Changing Social Norms Through Youth Engagement”.

“This is a timely theme and an important reminder to all of us that the change we seek cannot be achieved without the support and full participation of young people. Around the world, youth are making their voices heard and spearheading powerful initiatives to address poverty, health concerns, environmental challenges, school violence and more. Here in the Caribbean, it’s no different,” noted Cushing, adding that “the U.S. Government firmly believes in the power of youth, and has partnered with regional Governments for many years to support youth development.”

The Conference, which runs from May 10-11, will culminate with a youth rally on Saturday.

Representatives are drawn from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and host country St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Community Family and Youth Resilience Programme, OECS Commission and USAID are also represented.