Regional peace promoters have urged the youth to be at the forefront of maintaining and promoting peace in the Great Lakes region as they are the first one who will benefit from the dividends of peace.
The initiative is supported by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in partnership with Never Again Rwanda and Pole Institute of Goma, DR Congo.
They were celebrating the International Peace Day on September 26 in Rubavu District of Western Province, where officials embarked on promotion of peace.
The day is celebrated at the regional level every year where various people from the Great Lakes region meet and hold peace building discussions.
The initiative is implemented by Never Again Rwanda in partnership with other Non-Governmental Organisations from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi.
Speaking during the discussions, Eric Mahoro, the head of programmes at Never Again Rwanda, advised the youth to avoid stereotypes that have hindered peace in the Great Lakes countries.
“They should avoid being led by stereotypes that are based on what they heard from others who put their own benefits at the forefront. In our research, it was found out that bad politicians in the region contributed to negative thinking among the citizens of these countries through stereotypes that are destructive,” Mahoro said.
The discussions on peace building focused on the role of critical thinking among the youth in promoting the right to peace and their contribution in preventing any threat to peace in the region.
Paluku Emmy Kasambula, from Goma in DR Congo, said that his role to preserve peace in the Great Lakes region will be to encourage other youth to shun stereotypes that encourage conflicts.
The meeting urged those who reside along the borders to preserve social cohesion in line with promoting long-term peace in the region.
Onesphore Sematunda, head of research, regional programme for peace conservation at Pole Institute, said that the youth were very important partners in everything. He pointed out that family should have a great contribution in peace development.
“Different environments positively or negatively influence youth behaviour. These are like schools, media and social media, etc. The message we give to the community is to try to inculcate a culture of peace among the youth,” Sematunda said.