Regional youngsters call for end to armed conflicts

STUDENTS from across the Great Lakes Region have called for an urgent end to conflicts which they said are affecting lives of millions, including fellow youth.

STUDENTS from across the Great Lakes Region have called for an urgent end to conflicts which they said are affecting lives of millions, including fellow youth.

The young students said conflicts in the region were responsible for poverty among citizens, continued food insecurity and slow pace of development, among others.

They were speaking at the weekend after a regional public speaking competition, which attracted 24 secondary school students from Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo and Uganda.

Redempta Isimbi Dusabe, a senior five student of Ecole Notre Dame de la Providence de Karubanda, said putting up mechanisms to ensure good governance and strengthen people’s participation in the leadership would save the region from long-standing conflicts.

Francine Mulashi, a student from Goma, DR Congo, said building peace is a responsibility of every individual, but that the youth must play a key role.

“We have suffered a lot from the actions of armed groups in our midst,” she said, “it is our ideals that will give us a clear understanding on how we can build peace in the region.”

Addressing the students, the Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, Dr Jean Baptiste Habyarimana, said the youth have got all it requires to contribute to building peace in the region.

“We don’t want you to experience what we went through in 1994,” Habyarimana said in reference to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. “The future of our countries lies within your hands and it is up to you to champion peaceful and secure communities.”

Organised by Never Again-Rwanda (NAR), a local youth-based human rights and peace-building organisation, the competition focused on the theme, “Fear, Power and Violence: How to achieve peace in the Great Lakes Region?”

It was organised to create a platform for regional youth to discuss how to promote inclusive, effective and responsible participation of the youth in social transformation towards a fair and peaceful society, Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, the NAR Peace Building Programme coordinator, said.

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