Youth across the country have raised concern over what they consider as "a slow move in cooperating and capacitating of young people"; a development they think could undermine peace in the post-conflict country.
According to executive director of Young Peace Builders, Herbert Bicool Bangura, youth are being marginalized despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations, which among other things, stated that the best way to maintain peace in the country is to give at least 10% quota to the youth. He said the slow pace in capacitating young people has negative impact and could not be the solution of solving the country's problems. Bangura was speaking at the commemoration of the International Day of Peace last Saturday, 21 September, in Freetown, on the theme: 'Education for Peace'.
The Young Peace Builders, he said, is a group from post-conflict countries in the sub-region dealing with post-conflict issues like restoration of ethnic cohesion, reintegration, reconciliation and structural reforms in democracy and leadership, in attempt to lay a strong foundation that will prevent future violence. The fabrics of the Young Peace Builders network is the shared aspects of conflict and political history and the struggle to use non-violent means to transform history into a peaceful and prosperous today and future, he said.
"Most Sierra Leoneans are becoming thick skin fighting to adapt to what is humanly impossible and this is as a result of many factors, despite the many strides that the UN peace building missions, government, NGOs and other civil society groups have been making. Conflict transformation experts have maintained that dealing with the consequences of violence is the major chance of breaking the conflict trap," Bangura emphasized.
He said that it was difficult to imagine peace building in the midst of glaring crises, as besides the 'normal' crisis Sierra Leone and other countries are experiencing after violent conflict, peace building is even a greater challenge when other crisis situations come into play. Societies in conflict situations experience other parallel crisis situations like food scarcity and lack of medical care, loss of livelihood assets, insecurity and violence, structural inequality between identity groups and sexes, social and political exclusion, he further stressed.
According to Bangura, there are no structural functional conditions, social, political or economic which makes a country prone to violence. "What have we done to address them? Are we really sincere or we are playing petty politics with them? Are the women given their rightful places in society? Are the youth benefiting or taking leadership roles in their development processes?" he asked, and continued: "We have seen the growing number of gangs, cliques, Ataya bases, prostitution and organized crime, school children are robbed of quality education and introduced to early life of corruption by paying bribes for grades."
He said the cumulative effects of inertia in addressing socio-economic and political questions [in a] post-conflict [situation] could create discontentment among youth in particular, and that discontented groups readily provide the human resource for political power struggle. He said the country is "sitting on a time bomb" but maintained that"we have all what it takes to either switch off and destroy the bomb or allow it to blow us all out!"
Source | CONCORD TIMES