Project SILENCE THE GUNS
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1.0 Problem Statement and justification
Over the past two decades, the threat posed by violent extremist groups has grown substantially across Africa. As many African countries, Cameroon, situated in the Lake Chad Basin and the Gulf of Guinea, faces since several years, significant issues of unrest and insecurity, including the increasing number of refugees coming from the Central African crisis. The presence and operations of Boko Haram have displaced over 1.2 million people internally and forced more than 200,000 Nigerians to flee to Cameroon Chad and Niger. Internal displacement often feeds into and exacerbates pre-existing conflicts and dynamics of displacement amongst pastoralists and sedentary communities – not least since Boko Haram implements a strategy of stealing livestock and burning farmlands in rural communities.
The ongoing conflict with Boko Haram, operating in the Far North region since 2014 has so far made at least 2,500 killed, 250,000 displaced and is triggering the rise of vigilante self-defense groups. In 2016, separatist rebels launched in the north-West and South-West Cameroon a battle for their own state making over 3 000 killings (civilians and army), and forced more than 700,000 people out from their homes, thousands fleeing across the border into Nigeria. Conflicts have been causing a great toll on the situation of the Child rights, since thousands of children have been involved as combatants, mine testers, messengers and cooks some of them, used as human shields or as sex slaves for military leaders.
In this context of security crises, the outbreak of COVID-19 added in the country a health crisis, impacting progress in the fight against poverty and for children rights; decreasing school enrollment rate, increasing early marriages and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Coupled with the (impacts of the COVID19 pandemic), conflicts and violent extremism are undeniably one of the biggest impediments to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the convention of elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the implementation of the agenda 2063 of Africa Union. One important cause and consequence of the cycle of conflicts in Cameroon and in Africa is the proliferation of small arms and light weapons by civilians, including rebel groups and militias as well as government-related entities. Guns which have been becoming the most popular weapon are mostly imported and cause more deaths than bombs, grenades or mines (according to the 2019 SAS and African Union study, Weapons Compass: Mapping Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa).
It is commonly admitted that children are the future and that they are the main victims of conflicts and violent extremism since they deprive them from their rights and endanger their future. However, they are generally forgotten and left behind when talking about serious issues concerning their lives and future. In order to address this situation, Children for Peace implements the project “Silence the Guns”.
2.0 Objectives of the intervention
2.1 Overarching Objective
Silence The Guns is an integrated citizen engagement project led by Children and especially girls whose overall objective is to contribute to realize a conflict free Africa by engaging children to mobilise all stakeholders to prioritize efforts on peace, children and girls rights, effective socio-economic development.
2.2 Specific objectives
- position children as core actors of peacebuilding and fight against the pandemic in their community;
Strengthen children and community capacities on topics related to the fight against hate speech, peacebuilding, violent extremism and human rights focusing on children rights, disarmament and illicit proliferation of weapons;
Mentor and engage children to develop and implement community initiatives related to peacebuilding, children rights, countering violent extremism, fight against hate speech and illicit proliferation of weapons,
Operationalize community awareness and advocacy campaign on the topic Silencing the Guns to support the global ceasefire call of the UNSG;
- Promote/valorize children’s peacebuilding best practices as part of the project Silence the Guns.
4.0 Place and date
This second part of the project Silence the Guns (whose first part was achieved in 2020) will be implemented during 5 months from February to June 2022 in Cameroon.
5.0 Target group
The project will mobilize children and youths (7- 18 years old) from schools, university, mosques, churches faith-based organizations (including refugees and IDPs).
Press conference with livestream on Children for Peace Facebook page on February 10th, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/Children-for-Peace-C4P-997762983708894
- Build directly the capacity children’s trainers of trainers on themes related to the fight against Hate speech, peacebuilding, violent extremism and human rights focusing on children rights, disarmament and illicit proliferation of weapons.
- Support Children to elaborate children declaration on “Ceasefire – Silence the Guns” and make it endorsed by children across the country.
- Organize Art for peace sessions within Children for Peace Art for Peace training programme to build the capacity of children to produce paintings/artworks telling their stories on Hate speech, peacebuilding, disarmament and non-violence.
- Set up children for Peace clubs in communities and build the capacity of members in leadership for peacebuilding, human/children rights, and gender-equity.
- Organize a children’s march for peace entitled “Ceasefire – Silence the Guns”
- Organize sensitization and advocacy meetings with local traditional and religious authorities; State officials, private sector on matters related to peacebuilding, disarmament, reintegration, girls and children rights.
- Set up of 3 peacebuilding multi-stakeholders networks constituted by 75 religious, traditional leaders and state officials), 200 community members and 500 children 19 – 28 February 2022
- Set up and engage several peacebuilding multi-stakeholders’ networks in the drafting and implementation of community roadmap to fight violent extremis and illicit proliferation of weapons in communities.
- Take advantage of social media and local media to increase girls and children voice for peace through various communication tools and channels.
The ultimate outcome expected from this project is as follows a conflict-free country and continent, rid of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters, genocide, violent extremism and conflicts thanks to multi-stakeholders ’collaboration and synergies and the crucial role of children and youth.
Through the project:
children, religious and traditional leaders; community leaders and local authorities will work closely together (1) against hate speech and identity-based differences; mobilizing them in community-based activities to find gender sensitive approaches to dealing both with conflict, gender based violence and early/wrought marriages in their communities (2) to advance the Silence the guns project related issues; to counter violent speech, illicit proliferation of weapons and to identify early-warning initiatives in communities.
- Stigmatization of disengaged children/teenagers ex-combatants will be lowered and communities more ready to accept them.
Local governance of prevention and resolution of conflicts control of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons will be reshaped with children as key actors.
For the implementation of this project, Children for Peace will be partnering and working on the field with local authorities, religious, traditional leaders, several local associations and networks for the achievement of the project’s goals.