On May 2nd, I attended War Child’s launch of “Suluhu”, a cross border Peacebuilding Project at the Kiryandongo district refugee settlement in Northern Uganda, attended by Deborah Malac, the US Ambassador to Uganda.

The project, led by War Child and supported by USAID, aims to help relieve social conflict and unease often experienced in relationships between refugees and host community members. The initiative, which engages vulnerable youth in the peacebuilding process, will reduce the likelihood of local conflict and provide the tools to improve social cohesion between refugee settlements and host communities. The program will reach 35,000 children, young people and their families over two years.

According to UNHCR, more than half a million people fleeing violence and human rights abuses, mostly from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have now found protection and safety in Uganda. This is the highest number in the country’s history.

“Suluhu” is the Kiswahili word for “resolution’ or ‘reconciliation’ and reflects the project’s focus on involving local refugee communities in peacebuilding initiatives – a core function of War Child’s work. The project strengthens local cross-border conflict management, and the Uganda team works closely with their counterparts in South Sudan.

Over 300 participants attended the “Suluhu” launch, including both Ugandan and South Sudanese children and young people. The Ambassador and the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees released two white doves, taken from the 2015 International Day of Peace Theme “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All”.

Mary, a South Sudanese youth leader and peacebuilding committee member said at the event: “Youth Peace Committees have got many roles to play in the community. For example, holding community awareness and dialogue to help resolve local issues, to report and refer issues that are beyond our control, offering guidance to those affected by conflict and to show positive leadership to others. We need peace and to live without the fear of being killed. We also need peace to promote development among ourselves, our society and the country at large.”

Photo: US Ambassador, Deborah Malac, with the Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, release two doves as symbols of peace, at the launch of War Child Canada’s “Suluhu” peacebuilding project.

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