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Anglican Church of Burundi and UNICEF mobilise young people for peace building efforts

Posted on: April 20, 2020 9:36 AM
The Anglican Church of Burundi has partnered with UNICEF in a peace-building project in the conflict-riven country.
Photo Credit: J Bariyanga / USAID

[ACNS, by Staff Writer] The Anglican Church of Burundi, in collaboration with the United Nations’ children’s organisation UNICEF, have conducted an intensive training course for youth in peace building and social cohesion. Thousands of young people in Kibago, Mabanda, Nyanza Lac and Rumonge are running social activities to deepen social cohesion between members of their communities.

The training was intended to help young people address issues related to social instability, such as poverty and unemployment. During the training sessions, held once a week, young people engaged in discussions about how they could tackle the issues in their communities.

The young people also initiated income-generating activities in order to help them address issues of poverty and have been given loans to help get them started. For example, one group of young girls in Nyana-lac have invested in growing rice.

The Anglican Church of Burundi ha said that the training has been especially important at this time in Burundi as they are heading into elections. It is among several initiatives being undertaken by the Church to encourage people to approach the election process responsibly and engage in peace building with their communities before, during and after the elections.

The Bishop of Matanya, Seth Ndayirukiye, leads the initiatives. He said: “the elections should be considered as a normal process that has the potential to help the country progress towards further development, rather than as a source of conflict and crisis.”

Youth are being urged to be examples to their peers of those who promote and keep peace. The initiatives they are undertaking are assisting adults, and entire communities, to find solutions to the challenges they are facing.

Last month, the UN Human Rights Council warned of a deteriorating situation in Burundi as the country heads towards its general election on 20 May. The UNHRC singled out a youth league linked to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy party for carrying out multiple attacks against opposition politicians and their families.

They Commission said that the group have continued to carry out “killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture and ill-treatment and rape against actual or alleged political opposition members.”

Burundi has suffered from conflict and instability since it gained independence in 1962; including assassinations, coups, episodes of  ethnic cleansing, civil wars and genocides. The last general election, in 2015, was accompanied by a failed coup attempt.