Siraha is one of the districts of Terai that has been greatly impacted upon by the ten-year long Maoist armed conflict, the Madheshi movement and the various armed groups operating in the region. Over the course of the conflict, more than 100 armed groups have operated in the Terai demanding greater respect for Madhesh people, including engaging in kidnapping, robbery, and killings. The armed groups are partly a by-product of the Maoist armed conflict, as a culture of using violent means for solving any differences or conflicts has been established. The armed groups have further flourished due to unstable politics, a lack of law and order, impunity from authority, unemployment, and open borders with India. Young people are especially attracted into the armed groups due to unemployment and are eager to earn money with little effort.
However, many local people, especially young people, have also been engaging in peace activities. The All People Development Centre (A PEC), is an example of one such non-governmental organisation based in Siraha district which is mobilising young people for peace activities. APEC has formed ten youth peace groups in different schools around Siraha. The groups are composed of between twenty one to twenty five students from the eleventh and twelfth grades. The groups have been working to raise people\'s awareness of peace and human rights, and have regularly campaigned against youth involvement in armed groups, as well as other issues such as domestic violence, child marriage, the daury system.
One of the youth peace groups was able to convert a young person who had previously been involved in armed groups. He successfully took over as chairperson of one of the youth peace groups and has been successfully running his designation and also working in journalism. People appreciate his tenure and his active involvement in the peace activities. His case has become an example especially to the youths for engaging in the creative works.
Another peace group successfully stopped one case of child marriage and convinced their parents to continue their children’s education. The case became an example and cases of child marriage have been reduced in the district. Lack of education, poverty, unemployment and child marriage prevails in Nepalese society. Early or child marriage not only impacts the people directly involved but, as a form of structural violence, impacts society as a whole. Nepal\'s peace process has to challenge all such forms of structural violence in order to build a sustainable peace.
SAMAGRA has implemented the Youth Engage (YE) Project in partnership with Search for Common Ground, and funded by EU. This project has ran in eight districts of the Terai Region. The overall goal of this YE project is to reduce youth engagement in organised violence by mobilising youth-led organisations, civil society, and state institutions to promote the constructive role of youth in promoting peace and stability. The action has three specific objectives and one cross-cutting objective:
- Specific objective: to strengthen the capacity of key civil society, police, local government actors and youth leaders to work cooperatively to prevent youth engagement in violence;
- Specific objective: to promote platforms for youth to advocate for changes that address the causes of youth engagement in violence; and
- Specific objective: to shift public attitudes about the constructive role that youth can play in peacebuilding and development.
- Cross-cutting objective: to improve relationships and foster cooperation among youth, local leaders, security forces and the media to prevent youth engagement in violence and promote youth civic engagement.