The 6th East African Community University Students debate on regional integration has kicked off at the Nkrumah Hall, Julius Nyerere Campus of the University Of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Speaking at the official kicking of the debate, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr Charles Njoroge, cautioned young people within the EAC against falling victim to migrant smuggling as they look for greener pastures across national borders.

Mr Njoroge said that crafty persons and cartels had taken advantage of young people seeking better opportunities out of their countries, the problem of migrant smuggling had been compounded by insufficient systems and corruption which hinder national and international efforts to combat transnational and cross-border crimes.

“As the integration deepens, there was an overwhelming movement of people across the borders, adding that this free movement comes with various challenges including trafficking of persons, migrant smuggling, drug trafficking and terrorism,” he said

He said that the EAC was undertaking various initiatives to promote continuous dialogue among the youth and enhance their participation in moving the regional integration process forward.

A total of 30 students from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda a are participating in the debate that is aimed at picking a Youth Ambassador and Deputy Youth Ambassador from each EAC Partner State. There were no participants from South Sudan.

The theme of this year’s debate is:

The debate is held under the theme “Border management to address migrant smuggling and corruption at borders for stability and social economic development in the East African Community, Role and Implications of the youth”

“Our Youth Ambassadors are a tested group of young leaders. The selection process is highly competitive and subsequent capacity building Programme ensures that the youth leaders are well nurtured and groomed for furthering personal and regional development of EAC,” said Mr Njoroge.

Speaking at the event, Prof. Cuthbert Kimambo, the Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, at the University of Dar es Salaam, said the debate was a noble initiative that could be used to bring young people to discuss pertinent issued concerning the EAC.

“The University of Dar es Salaam firmly believes that the youth are a key stakeholder in the entire EAC integration process and we need to engage them in matters of East African integration at each step of the way,” said Prof. Kimambo.

Prof. Kimambo said the debate was a perfect venue for identifying young people who were passionate about the integration process and who would in turn sensitize their peers on the EAC integration process.