Violence mitigation training for community leaders (2014)
Central African Republic
In June 2014, we co-led an intensive 5-day conflict transformation workshop for local Central African leaders in partnership with the US Institute of Peace (USIP). In the year before the workshop, violent attacks by armed Christian and Muslim militias had escalated, killing more than 5,000 people and displacing over a million. Our role was to train a diverse group of community leaders who were trying to de-escalate the conflict.
About the Program
In June 2014, we co-led an intensive 5-day conflict transformation workshop for local Central African leaders in partnership with the US Institute of Peace (USIP). In the year before the workshop, violent attacks by armed Christian and Muslim militias had escalated, killing more than 5,000 people and displacing over a million. Even though there had been prior violent conflict, this was the first time that such large numbers of civilians in Central African Republic (CAR) were targeted on the basis of religious identity. 12,000 UN peacekeepers were scheduled to arrive in the fall. French and African Union peacekeepers had secured sections of the capital city of Bangui, but the atmosphere was tense.
Our role was to train local leaders who had remained in communities and were trying to de-escalate the conflict. As one workshop participant stated: “If we see people acting in a discriminatory way in our neighborhood, it is up to us to approach them. There is nobody else to turn to.” The workshop was occasionally interrupted as participants received urgent phone calls and tried to help mediate the situations emerging in their communities.
The people who attended the training were a mix of journalists, human rights workers, leaders of women and youth networks, local government officials, religious leaders, trade unionists, and parliamentarians. All were committed to working across faith groups to forge a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The 5-day workshop covered how to facilitate dialogues; mediating and de-escalating conflicts; strengthening women’s peace leadership; understanding the root causes of the crisis; building alliances to stop the violence; and building upon the strengths and values shared by Central Africans of all faiths. It was sponsored by the Economic Community of Central African States and the Central African Republic’s Ministry of Reconciliation.
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