On the occasion of the International Day of Peace yesterday, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Jean Ping, commended countries and individuals who play a role in ensuring the world remains peaceful.
In his message, Dr. Ping commended countries that have contributed heavily to the AU’s efforts to restore peace in Somali and Sudan, observing that there has been great sacrifice from these countries and the men and women who are part of the missions.
“For the AU, the Day offers a unique occasion to celebrate the work of local peace builders who are devoting their lives to promote peace in their communities and countries,” Ping said in a statement.
“Peace Day also provides an opportunity for a sober reflection on the scourge of war and the challenges ahead in our quest for lasting peace.”
Dr. Ping said that conflict remains a painful reality in several parts of the continent. Inevitably, most of the victims of conflict are innocent women and children.
“Without peace, they have little hope of improving their lives, little hope of escaping poverty. Often, those who work on behalf of the victims of conflict are themselves targeted,” he said.
“Humanitarian workers, medical practitioners, journalists, peacekeepers and other civilians working on the front-lines of war also pay a heavy price for their dedication”
Ping said that this year, the Peace Day comes at a critical juncture in Africa’s path towards peaceful and sustainable solutions to ongoing conflicts.
He noted that the popular uprisings in North Africa had opened up new prospects for democracy and respect for human rights in North Africa, noting the AU will continue supporting the countries affected to rebuild.
“The AU will continue to do all in its power to support the ongoing transitions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the people of the region for democracy, human rights, good governance and prosperity are indeed fulfilled,” Ping observed.
“The events in North Africa have demonstrated a heightened level of consciousness amongst young people about the need for democracy and good governance. We applaud their courage and determination to build a better future”.
Ping said that even as the AU/UN force is fighting hard to restore peace, the Somali people are still facing yet another calamity.
“With the prevailing drought and famine, the obligations of the international community are greater than ever before. It is critical that we meet the humanitarian needs on the ground,” he said
The AU reiterated its commitment to the promotion of peace and security on the continent, and called on all member states, citizens, civil society and other stakeholders, to redouble their efforts to consolidate the gains made, resolve outstanding conflicts and make peace happen.