Conciliation Resources has embarked on a new project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which aims to strengthen young people’s involvement in conflict prevention in areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The LRA first took root in the northern border region of the country in 2008, and has been able to survive in remote regions where state presence and services are minimal. The army’s terror tactics include the forced recruitment of children; between 2008 and 2016 an estimated 75% of the LRA’s 7299 abductees were young people. Those who manage to escape often face exclusion from their communities, and must deal with the emotional turmoil of the violence they have been exposed to.
Building on over 20 years of experience working in this region, Conciliation Resources’ newest project will focus on enhancing the role of young people in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Conciliation Resources will work alongside three local partner organisations: Solidarity and Integral Assistance to Destitute People, Diocesan Commission for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, and The Network of Women Organisations of the Uélés. Together they will work with 20 youth groups and over 300 young people from the provinces of Bas Uele, Haute Uele and Ituri. Through workshops and learning events, the project will provide young men and women with the vital skills to undertake conflict prevention work in their own communities and support the reintegration of returnees. East and Central Africa programme Director Kennedy Tumutegyereize explains:
By giving young people the skills to manage community discussions, develop strategic relationships, and address tensions, they will be much better equipped to deal with future conflict risks.
Conciliation Resources believes the inclusion of young people in peacebuilding efforts is critical. Their participation is especially important in the DRC, where young people make up 65% of the population but are excluded from political processes and often viewed as agitators of conflict. Kennedy adds:
Young people have an essential role to play in responding to the LRA threat and can share lessons and experiences of affected communities with policy makers at local and national level. This work will support young people to take on this role.
This latest EU-funded project will build upon Conciliation Resources long-standing work in areas affected by the LRA conflict. Past projects have sought to respond to the increasingly fragile environment in the border areas between the DRC, CAR and South Sudan, by supporting civil society organisations to reduce violence at a local level and advocate for policies that sustain and promote peace.