Civil Peace Service (CPS)/Special Initiative on displacement: Creating better prospects, preventing violence
Title: Civil Peace Service: Social integration of young internally displaced people
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017
Afghanistan has been afflicted by conflict and violence since the beginning of the Soviet invasion in 1987. In the years since the invasion, the country has experienced civil war, militias, organised crime, the Taliban and an intervention led by a Western alliance. Millions of people have had to flee their homes or have been internally displaced.
Internally displaced people (IDPs) and their children are among the most disadvantaged groups. At 98% for women and 80% for men, illiteracy rates are even higher than for other poor urban classes. Despite the efforts of non-governmental organisations to facilitate school attendance for the children of IDPs, the number of dropouts from school in the camps remains high.
Around 5.8 million people have now returned to Afghanistan, equivalent to about one fifth of the population. As is the case with IDPs, these returning refugees lack access to land and living space, employment and basic services. Their long-term return and reintegration is particularly problematic given the country’s ongoing precarious situation regarding security and the economy. Children and young adults, who make up around two thirds of the total population, are particularly affected by the high level of unemployment, illiteracy and insecurity. Their lack of prospects is fertile ground for organised crime, extremism and violence. This situation is intensified by historical and ethnically motivated divisions between certain refugee groups.
Young IDPs from Kabul’s informal settlements work in their families and communities towards non-violent conflict transformation. Their attitudes towards ethnicity as a dividing factor and towards the use of violence have changed.
In collaboration with local civil society partner organisations, the Civil Peace Service (CPS) provides support to young internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the informal settlements in Kabul. In the first instance, activities target predominantly young men between the ages of 18 and 24. As soon as the project has established a trusting relationship with IDP communities, it will also implement activities with young women.
In projects geared to further training and sport, young people from different ethnic backgrounds learn to build trust, engage in dialogue, dismantle prejudice and cooperate with one another. They receive support in developing life skills and the ability to assume responsibility and demonstrate leadership. Football training sessions made up of ‘three halves’ are proving extremely popular – the third half is devoted to reflection and communication.
Information and awareness-raising campaigns increase young people’s knowledge of their rights and obligations. They are given support with asserting their rights in their local environment and finding ways to express them in a self-confident manner. Art is also used in the form of a puppet theatre, for example, which deals with issues of reconciliation between divided ethnic groups.
The project is part of the BMZ Special Initiative entitled ‘Tackling the root causes of displacement – reintegrating refugees’.
The young people are playing a more integral role in their communities. They increasingly encourage other young people to take part in activities geared to problem and conflict resolution and in group-based recreational activities.
Combining sports activities with support for building life skills and capacities for assuming responsibility and leadership has improved access to young men, who are often burdened with multiple social expectations. Independently organised activities, such as a football tournament, which reach beyond the confines of the community, have increased the understanding between various youth groups and the esteem in which they are held by the older generation. At twice-monthly dialogue sessions with elders in the camps and representatives of the host communities, young people have learned how to articulate their points of view in a peaceful manner.
Thanks to regular organised sports activities, youngsters say they fight less frequently with one another and have abandoned drug use. The training sessions also mean they feel better informed of their rights and encouraged to use their newly acquired knowledge in dialogue with representatives of the authorities. One example of this is their intention to request improved healthcare and access to schools for their younger brothers and sisters.