Cameroon is in the grip of multiple conflicts: First attacks started in 2012 by the Seleca and Anti Balaka groups. First attacks by the terrorist group Boko Haram kicked off in the northern part of the country started in 2014. The anglophone crisis specifically in North-West and South-West Cameroon started since 2016. In order to address this situation, Children for Peace which is a girl led movement girl led movement committed to increase the number of children in peacebuilding, launched the project Silence the Guns. It is an integrated citizen engagement project led by Children and especially two girls Divina Maloum and Emmanuelle Foyet, respectively Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator of Children for Peace. The overall objective is to contribute to realize a conflict free Africa by engaging children to mobilize all stakeholders to prioritize efforts on peace, children and girls’ rights, effective socio-economic development.
The project was implemented in two period. The part one of this project was implemented during four months from December 2019 to March 2020 just before the outbreak of COVID19 and the restrictions that resulted. The phase 2 of the project Silence the guns was launched in February 2022 and ended in July 2022.
The project contributed to build the capacities of at least 1500 children on topics related to the fight against Hate speech, leadership, peacebuilding, violent extremism and human rights focusing on children rights, gender-equity, disarmament and illicit proliferation of weapons. In fact, the capacity of 150 children’s trainers of trainers through the organization of 2 capacity building meetings/workshops in communities – 1 in Yaounde and 1 in Maroua. And together with the children for peace staff, children’s trainers of trainers built the capacity of 1000 children in communities. An Art for peace session has been organized within Children for Peace Art for Peace training programme and enabled to build the capacity of 20 children (15 girls and 05 boys) and produce 20 paintings/artworks on themes related to COVID19 pandemics, peacebuilding, disarmament and non-violence. 10 children for Peace clubs have been set in communities and build the capacity of 250 members in leadership for peacebuilding, human/children rights, and gender-equity.
500 children have been mentored and directly engaged in the drafting and implementation of community initiatives related to peacebuilding, children rights, countering violent extremism, fight against COVID-19 and illicit proliferation of weapons.
02 advocacy meetings organized with 75 local traditional and religious authorities, on matters related to (1) Hate Speech measures and children rights, demobilization reintegration and disarmament of youth/teenagers ex combants; (2) KidsRights; (3) the implementation of the UN Convention on the Right of the Child and the UNSCR 2250 and 1325 (relating to youth and children participation in peacebuilding) and the fully implication of children in peacebuilding (4)fight against early and rough marriages; (5) the importance to mobilize all stakeholders including private sector and multi-nationals to invest in girls and children education and youth employment.
02 sensitization meetings organized with 200 communities’ members (100 women and 100 men) including internally displaced people and refugees including internally displaced people and refugees in 5 communities on (1) Hate Speech measures, Children rights and early marriage; (2) the importance of the living together and peacebuilding, (3) the consequences of early marriage; (3) the importance of disarmament, reintegration of children/Youth ex-combatants (4) the importance to fight against the illicit proliferation of weapons; (5) children and girls education.
Interviewed during the closing ceremony, several local authorities as the Mayor of Yaoundé II, Yannick Martial Ayissi, appreciated the implementation of this project. According to them Silence the Guns contributed to set up 3 multi-stakeholders networks constituted by 75 religious, traditional leaders and state officials), 200 community members and 500 children who together have engaged community leaders and civil society to work with children, girls/women against identity-based differences; mobilizing them in community-led initiatives to find gender sensitive approaches to dealing with these issues.
The Project Silence the Guns mobilized at least 10 media in community awareness and advocacy campaign, reaching at least 3,000,000 people, against COVID 19, Hate speech, gender-based violence and early/wrought marriages, countering violent extremisms and illicit proliferation of weapons.
According to the Religious Leader Oumarou Garba and the beneficiary Hadjidjatou Lawan, the project has contributed to 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 stigmatization of disengaged teenagers ex-combatants has lowered and communities are more ready to accept them. Local governance of prevention and resolution of conflicts control of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons has been reshaped with children as key actors. Children have been supported in the elaboration of a children declaration on “Ceasefire – Silence the Guns” focusing on UNSG ceasefire and a roadmap of advocacy on Children Peace and Security.