The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Affairs, Jayathma Wickramanayake arrived in in the capital , Juba, on Sunday for a several-day visit to have meetings with young people, politicians and civil society organizations to discuss challenges facing youth and how to address them.

Speaking upon arrival at Juba International Airport, Jayathma was impressed by the warm welcome she received upon her first visit in South Sudan in 2020.

“This is one of the warmest welcoming receptions I have ever been treated to, she said”, adding her thoughts about the importance of her visit to the world’s youngest country: “When you talk about young people you cannot miss out on youth from South Sudan. I have met South Sudanese in many forums. and they positively contribute to different agendas.”

“First mission of 2020 and I can’t wait to meet the young people of South Sudan,” UN official twitted on Sunday.

“South Sudan is one of the youngest countries in the world, [gained] independent since 2011 – and more than 70% of the population is under 30.

Who’s Wickramanayake?

According to the UN office, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26. In this role, Jayathma works to expand the UN’s youth engagement and advocacy efforts across all four pillars of work – sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action – and serves as a representative of and advisor to the Secretary-General.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Ms. Wickramanayake has worked extensively on youth development and participation, and has played a key role in transforming the youth development sector in her home country.

Prior to taking up her post, Ms. Wickramanayake was instrumental in creating the movement for civic and political engagement of young people, especially young women in Sri Lanka named “Hashtag Generation”.

Previously, she advocated for global youth development on an international level including as the first ever Sri Lankan Youth Delegate to the United Nations and as the youth lead negotiator and member of the International Youth Task Force of the World Conference on Youth 2014 where she played a critical role in mainstreaming youth in the Post-2015 Process and in the establishment of World Youth Skills Day.

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