Messages of peace in a time of turmoil

The Sudanese Revolution of 2018-19, which toppled the government of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir, dramatically changed the political and social landscape of Sudan. A renewed and vigorous interest in politics opened up new conversations around civil rights, and sparked demands for peace, justice and democracy in everyday life. However political unrest and increased government scrutiny on NGOs resulting from the turmoil has also opened up new challenges for the work of our partner, Collaborative for Peace in Sudan (CfPS).

In 2019 CfPS’s 14 Peace Committees continued their work to respond to early warnings of violence, by mediating tension and disputes at the community level. They also reactivated three more Peace Committees in response to rising levels of violence, helping their work spread across more areas and reach more people.

Political tensions

This work became all-the-more critical in the political upheaval surrounding the April uprising, and volunteers working with CfPS adapted their roles to act as whistleblowers for issues of corruption and promoters of human rights in their communities.

Resource competition

A major source of conflict in the Kordofan regions is competition over resources (for example water), which feeds into long-standing divisions and mistrust between tribes and divided groups, that easily, and often, escalates to violence. In 2019 Peace Committees continued to settle disputes over these issues, while sharing their expertise in how to manage resources together peacefully which helped encourage positive relations moving forward.

As well as dealing with immediate conflicts as they arose, CfPS spread messages of peace more widely. This was thanks to the increasing numbers of volunteers - including influential village elders and community leaders - who gave talks in schools on the importance of peaceful coexistence and non-violent mediation. Increased involvement in CfPS’s work shows the heightened appetite for peace in South and West Kordofan, which will continue to grow as messages of peace are spread. Meanwhile a growing number of requests for the Peace Committees’ intervention in disputes over the course of the year shows that they are becoming more widely known and accepted as a legitimate and effective mediation platform.

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