Bringing the army, militia and demobilised soldiers together

PSVS are a peacebuilding organisation in DR Congo. On 28 October 2010, they brought together 28 members from the army (FARDC), FRF militia, Mai Mai militia and demobilised ex-combatants to engage in a day of dialogue and discussion. The army and the militia groups have been in violent conflict with each other throughout the Second Congo War, and despite the official end of the war, fighting continues to this day, in what is one of the world’s deadliest conflicts.

The peace exchange day was the culmination of the work by PSVS to bring these opposing groups together and to create a space in which all felt comfortable to share and engage in discussion. Back in July PSVS attended the Peace Direct Peace Exchange for the DRC in Goma.  They wanted to follow through with some of the ideas discussed there, by holding their own Peace Exchange in the Chiefdom of Bafuliru in the highlands of Uvira. The 28 participants came together for the day and discussed the history of the conflict and what can been done to bring peace.

Members of PSVS

members of different groups taking part in the Peace Exchange

Practical Solutions

Aimee Birindwa from PSVS stated that there was a deep reflection by everyone on the current issues and an understanding of how to reach a more peaceful situation. Out of these sobering discussions came another on how to bring about positive change to work towards reconciliation.  The members from the army and the different armed groups came up with the following practical ideas:

  • To increase the number of workshops, which could reach the remote communities and not just the urban areas;
  • To reach out to different communities, encouraging dialogue between them and setting up permanent frameworks for cross-community dialogue;
  • To discuss a good policy for the reintegration of demobilised soldiers;
  • To create and publish booklets which contain these message not only in the national languages but also in the local languages.
The attendees of the Peace Exchange also further discussed what members of the armed groups and local community leaders could do to act:
  • Ban all forms of discrimination;
  • To fight against theft and destruction of property;
  • To discourage policies which uses the youth to implement hatred;
  • To encourage a good work ethic.
The ideas that came out of the peace exchange are not only  symbolic of the desire for peace but also offer very real and practical measures that can be taken to work towards reconciliation within the different communities.

Although the PSVS Peace Exchange was just one day in a long history of deadly conflict it is reflective of the desire for change.  It also shows the beginnings of working towards a more peaceful society in which even those  who for years used violence, can become those who use peace.

For more information, please contact the PSVS.

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