In 2021, several young people lost their lives to gun violence and for 2022, a teen in Dangriga lost his in a similar fashion. It’s a situation that remains a significant challenge for law enforcement authorities. However, according to Home Affairs Minister Kareem Musa, the violence is disheartening but one he and his ministry will do all they can to address in a meaningful way. Minister Musa explained that targeted interventions, which include educational opportunities and skills training will play vital roles in this effort.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “It’s something that I have harped on. I’m very disheartened by that I have to say while in 2021 now the murders were down we saw a big difference in the type of murders that were taking place. We saw the recruitment of a lot of young people by these gangs, a lot of young people who don’t know why they’re killing one another and a lot of them becoming collateral damage really. One instance a case of mistaken identity and in another instance I’m mistake by a police officer those are very gettable as minister and so moving forward the right of the initiatives that we have are targeting the very very young. Like I said we have to get them enrolled in school that is why the Minister of Education has already announced that we will have free education in four schools on the South side of Belize City. That’s very important to get these into go back in school and if they’re not academically inclined then we can get them in any one of the entrepreneurial skills programs that we have with the vocational skills training programs that we have as part of the leadership interventional unit so definitely our strategy is targeting the very young and to ensure that they do not fall prey to this type of gun violence anymore.”
Acting Director of the Department of Youth Services Kevin Cadle added that Cabinet’s greenlighting important policies will help the department respond better to some of the challenges young people in Belize face.
Kevin Cadle, Director, Department of Youth Services: “I go back to the youth challenge or the youth service corp program that will be at Mountain Pine Ridge targeting young people, that’s a two year program and we’re hoping to start that program by September. Secondly what was also approved by cabinet was that we want to change the age of the education age from 14 to 18 years old or between 16 and 18 so that again is another big move that you will see come forward to actually ensure that young people have to be in school or they have to start educating themselves whether it’s theoretically or vocational based. So those are two of the big things that are going to come starting this year that you will see actually to mitigate some of the issues of youth violence or youth involved in crime.’