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Young Somalis facilitate peace building in Galkayo

Young people are facilitating peace-building efforts in the divided Somali city of Galkayo, which has been riddled with tribal conflict since 1993. UNFPA Somalia is providing financial and technical support.

Young people from the warring sides of the city joined forces on 15 May 2019 to celebrate the Somali Youth League (SYL), the first political party in Somalia, which played a key role in the nation's road to independence from the 1940s to the 1960s. The league was formed on 15 May 1943.

“The youth from the north and south Galkayo jointly marched through the streets of city to portray their unity and harmony. They also created a platform to discuss young people’s role in building sustainable peace,” said UNFPA Somalia Youth Analyst and Fatuma Kuno Muhumed.

The young people, both female and male, discussed the role of the youth in building sustainable peace among the Galkayo community, promoting social cohesion and integration, as well as key challenges the young people face.

“There are increased incidents of gender based violence particularly rape in Galkayo. The young people discussed ways of curbing this problem and ways of bringing down HIV/AIDS infections and drug and alcohol abuse,” explained Muhumed.

The celebrations also included sports with the youth from the two sides of the city holding a friendly football match. “This was one of the very exciting events of the day as the supporters of both teams chanted and sung songs of peace,” Muhumed said.

Earlier in the day the young women and men also cleaned up streets not only to promote hygiene but also to maintain the beauty of the city of Galkayo.

According to Said, the youth in Galkayo have shown a great example of unity by portraying that young people have the right leadership to prevent and resolve conflict, violence, and extremism as well as contribute towards efforts to build sustainable peace.

“The youth in Galkayo have clearly demonstrated that young people are valuable innovators and agents of change who have the potential to change the narrative of Galkayo story of being perceived as a dangerous and divided city. The contribution of these young people should be actively supported, solicited and regarded as part of building peaceful communities and supporting democratic governance and transition,” said Muhumed.

She explained that earlier on UNFPA engaged Galkayo youth from both sides of the city for an Arts project so that the young people could express their thoughts and facilitate discussions among and between communities to explore various understandings of peace and conflict and of broader socio-economic issues.

“Creating art opened internal space for the young people whilst displaying the art opened external spaces for communities to gather and reflect on its meaning. Art and cultural expression also allow space for acknowledging difference and advocating for creative, non-violent transformation by engaging with a wide range of individuals across ethnic, religious and age groups. The use of art and creative processes build bridges across divides and inspire hope for a more peaceful future,” explained Muhumed.

She said UNFPA will continue investing in the young people in Galkayo so that their role in peacebuilding and supporting democratic governance is realized and to ensure that their potential as active change agents is fulfilled.


-----------Bahsan Said