On International Peace Day, Darfur Youth Peace Ambassadors discuss prospects of lasting peace with UNITAMS
To mark the International Day of Peace, ten youth peace advocates from Darfur met with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Volker Perthes, and his Deputy, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Khardiata Lô N'Diaye.
The peace advocates are currently serving as Youth Peace Ambassadors as part of a project funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund in Sudan and implemented by UNDP and UNHCR. The project targets West and Central Darfur and aims at empowering young women and men and enhance their space of civic engagement and leadership within their communities and their local governance structures.
“Armies and armed movements were never able to solve the problems of Darfur,” Mr. Perthes said, “The situation in Darfur needs a new generation to take matters into their hands. Without the strong will of the youth, nothing will change.”
The discussion covered a wide array of subjects including the impact of the continued political crisis on the escalation of violence across Sudan, and gaps in the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement and the National Plan for the Protection of Civilian. Participants also stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding and the importance of empowering women and youth as peace advocates.
“You carry the double burden of being young and being women,” said Ms. N'Diaye to the women Peace Ambassadors, “But being young and being women is also your power to raise your voices about peace and how important it is for your families, communities and nation. I really want to reaffirm our commitment as partners to support you”
The Youth Peace Ambassadors emphasized that lasting peace requires a holistic approach that goes beyond the cessation of hostilities and signing agreements.
“Some people think that peace just means putting down the guns. But peace is also built in schools and in the streets as well as in ministries. If you want to build peace, you have to build it in all places,” said Isra Ishag, one of the Youth Ambassadors, who also stressed the importance of community dialogue as an essential tool to build sustainable peace.
Several participants emphasized the need to build a culture of peace through every possible avenue including education and the arts.
“Schools are spaces that gather different tribes and colours and reach many people. A school can be a space where children and youth affected by conflict, including displaced persons, can express the pain in their hearts that they are otherwise unable to express,” said Radwan Abubaker, one of the Peace Ambassadors.
Special Representative Perthes said that a holistic approach is not only needed for building sustainable peace, but also for building a sustainable democracy in Sudan.
“Democracy is not just about elections and is not an elitist thing. It requires the freedoms of expression, association and organization and the empowerment of youth and women. It further needs the participation of communities outside of Khartoum,” Mr. Perthes said.