PRESS RELEASE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2017 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

Thursday, September 21, 2017

WANEP Affirms Respect, Safety and Dignity for All

The West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) joins the global community to  commemorate  the  2017  International  Day  of  Peace  on  September  21,  2017.  This  year’s theme; “Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” re-emphasizes WANEP’s vision of  a  West  Africa  characterized  by  peaceful  communities  where  the  dignity  of  the  human  person  is  paramount  and  where  the  people  can  meet  their  basic  human needs  and decide their own direction. Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

Unfortunately,  building  peace  has  become  a  daunting  task  going  by  recent catastrophic  global  events,  particularly  the  climate  change  that  has  impacted  on human security with grave consequences. At the international level, the world is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria in the United States and the Caribbean which have left a wave of destruction in their wake. The West  African region has  not  been  spared  either  from  the  consequences  of  climate change and natural disasters. Devastating floods and mudslides caused over a 1,000 deaths in Sierra Leone and destroyed infrastructures and properties.

WANEP is  concerned  that  these  new  threats  have  further  exacerbated  existing security threats especially in the West African region which is still grappling with the after effects of the Ebola  epidemic  and  other  pandemics,  internecine  wars, persistent  ethnic/religious/communal  clashes  and  political  violence.  A United Nations  report  states  that  Boko  Haram  operations  in  the  Sahel  region  of  Liptako-Gourma and Nigeria alone resulted to an estimated 1.2 million people fleeing their homes  to  neighbouring  countries  of  Burkina  Faso,  Cameroon,  Chad  and  Niger  thus worsening the refugee crisis in the region. Of further concern is the lingering political crisis  in  Togo,  which  has  already  resulted  in  gross  human  rights  abuses  and  a breakdown  of  law  and  order  with  grave  consequences  on  the  economy  of  the country.

WANEP notes that these latest catastrophes have serious implications on ongoing efforts to promote global peace and stability. WANEP recognizes that the attainment of sustenance peace in the face of increasing human security threats is a herculean task that requires the collective commitment of well-meaning stakeholders. As the world  marks  another  day  of  peace,  WANEP  applauds  the  numerous  peace  actors that continue to risk their lives to change the violent narratives of our communities, countries,  continents  and  our  world  while  recognizing the  many fallen heroes who unfortunately lost their lives in the process. As the  world celebrates the International Day of Peace, WANEP reiterates that more concerted  efforts  by  individuals,  regional  and  continental  bodies,  States  and  non-state actors and all relevant stakeholders, are needed to tackle the growing threats to  human  peace  and  security  and  reaffirms  its  conviction  that  a  culture  of  nonviolence  is  imperative  for  sustainable  peace  in  the  region.  WANEP remains committed  within  the  mandate  of  its  work  to  the  philosophy  of  non -violence through  its peace  education program  which  is in tandem  with the  ECOWAS’  Peace Education  policy.  It is aimed at equipping individuals and communities with the necessary  skills  to  transform  their  communities  into  a  haven  of  peace.  The  Peace Education program  of WANEP promotes  peace  education  curriculum  at  secondary, tertiary  and  policy  levels  and  is  borne  out  of  the  firm  belief  that  when  peace  is properly  inculcated  in the  minds  of  children,  youth  and  adults,  they will  ultimately become agents of change. As Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement  and  pioneer  of  the  philosophy  and  strategy  of  non-violence  once  said; “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.

This  year’s  Peace  Day  theme  re-echoes  the  TOGETHER  global  campaign  that promotes  respect,  safety  and  dignity  for  everyone  forced  to  flee  their  homes  in search of a better life. The campaign brings together the United Nations Systems and member  countries,  the  private  sector,  civil  society,  academic  institutions  and individual citizens in a global partnership in support of diversity, non -discrimination, protection  and  acceptance  of  refugees  and  migrants.  In this regard,  WANEP expresses  concern  for  the  increasing  number  of  refugees across  the  world  and  reaffirms its commitment to the campaign to address the plight of refugees.

For further enquiries kindly contact the National Network Coordinator of WANEP-The Gambia on: Tel: +220 2777197 or Email: info@wanepgambia.org