Ituri: Youth from various communities set up a peace council through dialogue
August 29, 2023
In Ituri province in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), young people have taken a significant step towards eradicating identity stereotypes and promoting peace. Last July, hundreds of young people took part in the election of the new committee of the Provincial Youth Council in the town of Bunia. The election was organised as a recommendation from a youth dialogue session held in June 2023, supported by the mediation consortium consisting of the NGO’s Interpeace, Action pour la paix et la concorde and Pole Institute, as well as New York University, with funding from the European Union.
To the applause of the assembly, Bungamuzi Kukwabo Déogratias was elected president with 18 votes out of 37. First among the four candidates in the running, he believes that the task to have young people involved in peacebuilding is now easy following a dialogue session to bring together young people from all the region’s communities. “This dialogue was a real opportunity to bring together the perpetrators and victims of insecurity. At the same time, it was easy to identify young members of certain armed groups”, he acknowledged. For him, the impact of these meetings is already visible. “The members of the committee I’m to head after our installation in a few days’ time by the provincial governor are young people from almost every community in Ituri”, he said.
The aim was to get young people involved in the peacebuilding process in this part of the country. And it’s done! They have committed themselves to changing the situation by agreeing to put an end to the leadership crisis within their provincial council. “One or two weeks ago, I went on a mission to Kasenyi on the shores of Lake Albert. I was amazed to find young people from different entities using the same means of transport to take part in an activity organised for them. It was almost impossible before these meetings to see, for example, a young person from Bahema-Boga taking a young person from Walendu Bindi on board his motorcycle”, enthuses the new youth president.
At the close of the three-day meeting in Bunia, Steve Sengida, deputy director of the cabinet in charge of the economy and finance, was already clear on behalf of the governor. “We must be ashamed of our province’s lagging development. The time has come to turn our backs on manipulators. The recalcitrants will only face justice or neutralization”, he insisted.
For the president of the Bedu Ezekere local youth council in Djugu territory, this is the first time that young people have been specifically called upon to take part in this kind of activity. “I think peace must continue. I thank the organizers”, said Lotsima Dhembu Kabose.
At the end of the meeting, young people from all the structures in the five territories of Ituri province signed an act of commitment, following a plan of concrete actions in the peace process. To mark their support for the peace process, their representatives even lit “candles” as a “light of peace”.
“Peace is a struggle for all of us”, said one of the participants. During the proceedings, the elements of cohesion between young people from different communities were discussed. The aim was to identify factors of division and cohesion, and concrete actions to be taken by these people, men and women alike.
“We, as young people, are the authors of and responsible for any problem that the province of Ituri is going through. We must first become aware of the situation, and then return to responsibility in order to disassociate ourselves from anti-values”, said the president of the Mahagi territorial youth council, Unyuthfwa Nyangambe Jean Claude.
At the invitation of by Interpeace in collaboration with the provincial government, the provincial coordination of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Rehabilitation and Stabilisation Programme (P-DDRCS) and the Mediation Advisory Group (MAG), over 400 young people took part in the meeting. They were joined by a number of provincial deputies, members of religious denominations and other local, national and international NGOs. This activity is part of the “Support for meditation and resilience for peace in Ituri and Greater North Kivu” project.