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WANEP Raises Concern On Emerging Challenges To Peace, Security

Sep 18, 2009, 4:32 AM

The Gambia will this Wednesday 23rd September 2009 join millions of people around the world to commemorate international day of peace and global ceasefire, meant to remember those for whom peace is a distant cry, land mine and cluster bomb victims, internally-displaced persons, refugees around the world, victims of rape and domestic violence, disaster victims, the hungry as a result of the increasing global food crisis and the state of the environment.

Each year people around the world observe and commemorate this day as a day of peace and global cease fire-cessation of hostilities, a day of mending relationships and peace- building.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1981, declaring that the "International Day of Peace" shall henceforth be observed as a day of global cease fire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day.

Taking advantage of the moment, Ms Pamela Cole, the National Coordinator of the West Africa Network for Peace-Building (WANEP), the largest Peace Building Civil Society Network, raised concerns in a statement on the emerging challenges to peace and security. She said: "More than ever, we must as a nation begin to take proactive measures to nip crime in the bud and focus on conflict prevention mechanisms for sustainable peace in The Gambia.

According to the statement, WANEP -Gambia in collaboration with its development partners and the private sector will mark the anniversary with sundry events and activities during the week-long celebrations.

In the light of recent increase in road accidents, violence, burglary and armed robbery in our communities, the statement added, WANEP have deemed it fitting to develop a theme around these emerging issues.

"Thus the theme of our celebrations this year is "Community Safety and Peace building. The objective is to raise awareness on such issues that stifle our efforts in building a culture of peace and sustainable development," the statement outlined.

The release added that "twenty-eight years individuals and organisations alike are provided with an opportunity each year to create practical acts of peace in a shared manner. A cessation of hostilities for 24 hours can enable relief workers to reach civilians in need of food, water and medical supplies. Furthermore, in recognition of a day without violence it provides hope for citizens who must endure war and conflict on a daily basis and to some extent demonstrate that peace is possible".

"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organisation, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organisation as a constantly pealing bell, reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.

"For centuries, the world has and continues to experience armed conflict and live with the scourge of these conflicts," the release stated.

The statement further stated that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continue to fuel many of such conflicts impacting directly on the security of communities.

"With acts of terrorism being an ever present threat to world peace the need to combat it has become a constant struggle. Faced with these global challenges, the need for Peace Day commemoration is reinforced through our collective and individual efforts," the statement stated.

According to the release, this year, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon launched the 'We Must Disarm (WMDY' campaign on 13 June, marking the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace.

In his campaign message, the Secretary-General used the day to ask governments and citizens of the world to focus on the important issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

WANEP implored all peace-loving people in The Gambia to unite in their efforts to stamp out the spate of increased rape, domestic violence, road accidents and crime in society.

It called on all residents in The Gambia to observe a minute of silence at noon (12pm) on Monday September 21, as requested by the United Nations Secretary-General.

Finally, the statement went further, "as we commemorate yet another Peace Day, particularly immediately after the holy month of fasting (Ramadan), let us spare a moment to remember those victims while focusing on building a long-term culture of continuous peace.