In Somalia, AFSC works with youth, in close partnership with civil society organizations, to develop innovative and creative ideas for building lasting peace while ensuring inclusion of all people regardless of clan or ideology. In particular, youth who are vulnerable, have a disability, or are from a minority clan are encouraged to participate. Local authorities, business leaders and traditional leaders play an essential role in the sustainability of these efforts.
As a result of the AFSC program in Somalia, young Somalis are active in nonviolence and innovative community-based initiatives, are supporting their families through income generating activities, and are educating their communities on peaceful coexistance.
Somalia has been in conflict since the 1980s and has not had a stable government since. The conflict has been over the control of resources and where clan identity has been manipulated for both social, economic, and political gain of interest groups within Somalia. The lack of socioeconomic institutions in Somalia has led to emergence of communities backing the two major clans – the Hawiye and the Darod. Other clans have rallied behind these two clans for state power and control.
The federal government alone cannot stabilize the situation. There is need for nationwide processes of negotiations, with traditional authorities and clan leaders, while providing options for achieving lasting peace that could lead to improved state of governance, if the process is led locally.
Over the past two decades, the nature of the Somali crisis and the international context within which it is occurring has changed constantly. It has mutated from a civil war in the 1980s, through state collapse, clan factionalism, and warlordism in the 1990s, to a globalized ideological conflict in the first decade of the new millennium.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Somalia, engaging young people can be a positive way to prevent them from recruitment by armed groups. AFSC recognizes that while the fragile and transitional situation in Somalia presents significant challenges and risks, it also holds high potential for achieving positive results. AFSC engages women and youth who have undergone vocational skills training to induct the new participants into peace work in the community and help new participants join existing youth forums formed by former graduates and engage in peacebuilding and reconciliation work in their communities.