One of the most important and effective ways to make isolated and vulnerable communities in central Africa safer is through building unity among community members. When individuals trust one another and are able to work together, they are able to address challenges they face together and recover from violence faster and more effectively. However, the impacts of violence, like trauma and fear, can cause disunity that puts communities at greater risk.
One way Invisible Children helps communities unify and solve problems together is by working with our partners to establish, train, and support locally-led Peace Committees in areas of central Africa most vulnerable to violent conflict. Peace Committees create safe, collaborative spaces for community leaders to address unique local challenges and strengthen trust and respect between all members of the community, especially groups that are particularly vulnerable and marginalized.
Because Peace Committees are made up of a diverse spectrum of community members – including women, youth, and religious and ethnic minorities – they help bring the different groups within a community together and ensure that concerns and ideas from all facets of the population can be part of the conversation. Invisible Children equips Peace Committee members with knowledge and tools to help mitigate and resolve conflict, as well as understand and address trauma, in order to unify their community and reduce vulnerabilities to violence conflict and exploitation.
Earlier this year, our Invisible Children CAR team conducted a week-long training with a Peace Committee in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR), which has been targeted by violent armed groups including the LRA and ex-Seleka rebels for several years. Since the completion of those trainings, the Peace Committee in Bria has been using its new skills and tools, playing a key role in building trust and helping community members work together to make their community safer.
As Bria’s Peace Committee continues to strengthen community bonds and foster collaboration, families continue to face violence from outside forces. Late last month, a clash between two nearby ex-Seleka factions resulted in some of the most intense violence Bria has seen since 2013. Several days of fighting and violence against the community left fourteen of Bria’s citizens dead, dozens of others injured, and thousands displaced and fearful of continued violence.
Because of the work that the Bria Peace Committee has already done and continues to do, members of the community are now better prepared to recover from and prevent further violence. However, they continue to need support in their efforts for peace, and hundreds of other communities across central Africa need tools that help them work together for peace and safety as they increasingly facing similar threats of violence.
Join us in making sure that these communities have access to the same tools and trainings that have helped strengthen the community in Bria and their pursuit of peace. With your support, we will continue building and supporting Peace Committees in vulnerable communities as we work to end violence and exploitation in central Africa.