We need to be involved in peace building-youth from great lakes countries

By Christopher Ahimbisibwe

DRC-GOMA: While the name Great Lakes Region was derived from the fresh water lakes and river basins within the central and eastern part of Africa. The area of focus is therefore the countries located in east and central Africa namely; Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Tanzania and other countries like Kenya, Sudan, Burundi and Zambia.

These great lakes Region constitutes a complex network of political and economic interactions with significant implications for peace, security and governance. It is also a region with interlinked conflicts and common fundamental problems that emanate from post-colonial challenges to state building and nation building.

The interlinked conflict which constitutes a big percentage of youth being involved in political wars has since taken the future of good leaders. A team of youth from Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo in one umbrella Great lakes Youth network for dialogue and peace gathered together in North Kivu province in the city of Goma in Congo for one week to discuss the positive role the youth play as actors in peace building.

Youth Leaders from Uganda, Rwanda,Tanzania attending the workshop.

The focus of this conference was to see how to strengthen youth groups and initiatives which are engaged in various sectors that contribute to peace, gender equality, environment, political representation, democracy and governance.

Among the issues discussed in the conference was why the youth are being neglected in the issues concerning peace building and conflict management when it comes to implementation. Youth went on to say that though both governments look at them as a threat when it comes to political games, they should understand that they also contribute a big portion of ideas toward the development of the country since they usually say that “we are the leaders of tomorrow”.

Gerald Barekye-Youth Leader from Uganda discussing issues concerning youth in Goma-DRC.

During the presentation of Rt.Col Ndjike Kaiko the spokesperson of 34 military regions North Kivu he said that though the governments need to work hand in hand with the youth but as leaders and peace keepers it is very difficult to fulfill the demands of the youth which sometimes bring negative thinking towards the government. He gave an example in Eastern DRC where almost 20 rebel groups which are operating in Eastern part of Congo, almost 90% of rebel groups are the youth who are being used by other people with self-interests.

On the issue of equity and gender, women have been left behind at all levels. During the presentation of Hon. Bazizane Maheshe Member of Parliament North Kivu who is also the minister of Education in DRC, she raised the alarm to both governments that though women have been neglected when it comes to the issues of peace building but silently they have played a big role though they don’t recognize it.

From right is Nadine Saiba a lawyer in Goma, Hon Bazizane Maheshe minister of education and others after presenting issues on gender and equality in peace building.

She gave an example of DRC whereby women are not allowed when it comes to the issues concerning peace in the region even in the army they are not given big ranks like men in the army yet they can perform better.

The crisis of youth being involved in rebel groups in Congo is very high and it is difficult to understand them because some of the rebel groups are in the community. “We can’t tell u the reason why we have failed to fight rebel groups in our country because we’re in the crisis where youth are highly involved in conflict and they stay in the community where you can’t locate where they are?” Ntuba Jimmy, Commissioner of police in North Kivu narrates.

In a combined effort to build a culture of peace in both three countries, youth agreed to combine effort which will raise one voice in promoting peace and also do activities that will change the mind of youth to desist from acts of wrong elements and put a support to the economic development of their countries.

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