Last week, the bad and ugly side of mob violence reemerged in Ganta-Nimba County. This week the Ministry of Justice lifted the curfew imposed in Ganta, by authorities following the violence fueled by the murder of a commercial motorcyclist by unknown person. While calm has been restored in Ganta, it is of utmost important that we address predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors to violence in Liberia as the 2017 Presidential election draws closer. Liberia cannot afford a fire bridge approach of issues of violence. We need to start right now with a comprehensive and holistic approach to peace and security.
First, it would be an important step to address youth empowerment and employment through a strong political will. The policies and programmes are in place but remain the reserves of cronies and political affiliates. Everyone in Liberia talks about youth empowerment, but it is now time to actually involve young people in programmes that mitigate violence in our society through a robust sensitization and placing young people on committees as well as programmes directed at building peace.
Second, there has been an increase in the number of youth based and youth led organizations involved in peacebuilding initiatives. Consequently, government and international organizations need to involve these groups in order to create opportunities for young people’s sustained participation and foster their leadership skills. According to President Obama in his parting message to Africa during his address to the African Union (AU), “Young people who are educated but idling can be a source of societal instability and disorder”
Third, according to the guiding principles on young people’s participation in peacebuilding efforts, there is a need to enhance the knowledge, attitudes, skills and competences of young people for peacebuilding. We also need to develop violence-prevention strategies that should go beyond simple security response, like the kind we had in Ganta. Strategic approach should encompass prevention of violence in the family, school and community and one that supports reinsertion and rehabilitation.
Against the backdrop of ongoing and predictable violence in the county, Messengers of Peace (MOP) -Liberia would start, effective January next year to provide non-violence awareness programme in all the 15 counties.
We would work through our peace clubs in schools and with at risk youths in various communities. Peace is our primary objective and MOP-Liberia would encourage young people to take greater charge of peace and security issues through advocacy for peace and investment in human security.
It is never enough to spend enormous funds on building our military capability, a heavy investment is needed to promote social cohesion and educational opportunities for young people. No nation across the world would achieve any meaningful development without cultivating and motivating its young people. The future as we always say in MOP-Liberia belongs to us and we should make the best use of it.
Until next week, when we come to you with another piece on dialogues among peace messengers: “Partnership for Peace-Young People as Partners for Peace”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.