A Letter from the Director
The Vision for Peace in Africa
Nelson Mandela once said: “I dream of an Africa which is at peace with itself” We at AFSC dream the same dream and along with the people of Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe are working to make this dream a reality.
Africa as a priority in the US
Africans are hopeful that the new U.S. Administration will take concrete actions to revitalize US’s partnership with Africa to end conflict and reduce poverty. The priorities for the new Administration are crowded. But the need for coherent, principled and thorough foreign policy for Africa must remain on the agenda. Undoubtedly, such policy and partnership will be imperative to create safer and better tomorrows for all in America, in Africa and elsewhere.
Delivering promises, and implementing agreement
Today, the principal challenge for Africa is to translate commitments into meaningful actions. So many peace agreements for the cession of violence have failed. Africa has not achieved the dream for being free from violence and abject poverty yet. Promising words have not been followed by enough actions, because institutions and governments often made promises without adequate political will and resources. For example, despite the declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), Sub-Saharan Africa faces multiple challenges and obstacles to meeting the Goals within the timeframe. Simply, the political will and resources are not forthcoming to match the Millennium Declaration.
Daunting challenges in Africa
The conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, Eastern DRC and the political impasse in Zimbabwe are illustrating the challenges ahead to dismantle the culture of violence. How can we end protracted war and violence when many people still suffer and die everyday? The progress to address the ‘violence against women’ has been disappointing. How can women meaningfully participate in peace and development when they are subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse? These impediments are colossal for those working for peace and social change.
It is not all grim and fruitless
There are evidences that the number of armed conflicts in the continent substantially reduced. Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone to mention a few are engaged in post conflict reconstructions and reconciliations. The conflicts in these countries were notorious for their brutality on civilians. We can attribute these remarkable changes to the increased peacemaking, and post conflict peace-building efforts within and outside these countries. It includes high-level political interventions and diplomacy to prevent escalations, mediation initiatives to solve conflicts, continued humanitarian assistance to save lives, reconciliations with healing efforts and peacekeeping programs.
It is possible to end conflicts.
Hopefulness and optimism for safer future
Africans as always are confident and hopeful that the future of the continent will be much better. Powerful movements for peace led by women, men, young people, traditional and religious leaders, and other civil society groups are increasing. They believe that the resilience among families and communities and their hope for better tomorrow can form the foundation of a safer and brighter future. We can be both hopeful and optimistic that your efforts will yield in positive progress and impact.
The emerging global vision and solidarity for peace
The peace movements and individual activists in America and elsewhere in the world are equally committed for better, just and peaceful world. They challenge their own government and hold them accountable for the harmful policies and actions on the poor countries. Their spiritual support, intellectual insights and financial contributions are out pouring to movements in Africa because we together have vision for peace and security for humanity. It is inspiring to witness that these global solidarities and movements can foster peace, justice, equality and wellbeing for all. Yes, we (also) can!
Yes, YOU also can join us!
It can never be too late to share the vision for peace and join the solidarity. You can join us today. You can help those who are less privileged and in conflict. You can share your talent, time and money.
Strategy . . . better than strength.
- saying by the Hausa People
Africa: Rooting Out Conflict
Every day throughout Africa, courageous communities are quietly reaching out for peace where for decades there has been only strife. And AFSC is standing with them, lending its expertise and support.
One of those areas is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where AFSC is distributing non-food necessities such as blankets and soap to approximately 6,000 women and children who ran to refugee camps because of renewed fighting.
As many as seven nations are involved in the DRC conflict. It has been the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II—45,000 people die each month, and children account for 47 percent of the deaths.
Last year, thanks to an AFSC grant for a local program, 3,500 women and girls received sanitary kits, and 40 community listeners in the hardest hit areas of eastern DRC received training as a first response group for raped women and girls.
The roots of today’s conflicts in Africa reach back into the late 1800s, when European powers colonized the continent, dividing it along lines that separated people who had traditionally worked and lived together.
Read more about Africa and AFSC’s work there in the Winter 2009 edition of Quaker Action.