Civil Peace Service (CPS)/Special Initiative on displacement: Dialogue and relationship-building between host communities and refugees, and psychosocial support for refugees
Title: Civil Peace Service (CPS)/Special Initiative on displacement: Dialogue and relationship-building between host communities and refugees, and psychosocial support for refugees
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2014 to 2019
Decades of political instability and numerous conflicts in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region have long made Rwanda a destination for refugees, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current crisis in Burundi has created an unexpected new flow of refugees into the country, doubling their total number. Most of the refugees, almost 60 per cent of whom are younger than 18, live in one of six UNHCR refugee camps.
The large number of refugees is having a major impact on Rwandan society, particularly by increasing conflicts over land and resources. Violent confrontations often occur between young people inside and outside the camps. Although the refugees’ basic necessities such as food, primary health care and access to (school) education are being met, they receive inadequate psychological care. Post-traumatic stress disorder makes those affected less able to cope and impairs their quality of life. The refugees are often viewed with mistrust by locals, while stigmatisation increases feelings of isolation and psychological pressure. Refugee women and girls are a particularly vulnerable group.
The huge frustration felt by young male refugees is often expressed through acts of aggression. Since they have rarely learned how to resolve conflicts constructively, their latent frustration always risks flaring up, while the constantly growing number of refugees multiplies the risk of conflict.
Young refugees and youths from villages next to the camps are able to dismantle their negative stereotypes through constructive dialogue.
Psychosocial support boosts the mental health and resilience of women and girls who have suffered traumatic violence.
In cooperation with its partners UNHCR, Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle (VJN), Ejo Youth Echo (EYE) and Eglise Evangélique des Amis au Rwanda (EEAR), the Civil Peace Service (CPS) supports violence prevention in and around the refugee camps. Negative stereotypes, and the needs and fears that they mask, must be recognised and the root causes of displacement and conflict addressed in order for the local population and refugees to peacefully co-exist.
Dialogue processes with the parties involved help to reveal the other side’s problems and fears and identify possible courses of action. This practice fosters a climate of mutual support and empathy that helps to reduce violent confrontations.
A radio programme helps local and refugee youths to understand each other’s views and behavioural differences. In peace clubs, the young people learn civil conflict resolution techniques and put them into practice in their immediate environment.
A newspaper designed for and by young people, which is published in the Kigeme Refugee Camp and circulated both inside and outside the camp, helps to promote mutual acceptance and nurtures critical thinking.
Psychosocial support and trauma work help to empower not only male adolescents but women and girls too, who are also more likely to suffer sexual violence. As a result these groups are better able to make use of opportunities for inclusion and participation.
The Kigeme Refugee Camp was selected for the GIZ/CPS refugee component on the basis of the findings of two studies as well as field visits. Located in the Nyamagabe district of southern Rwanda, the camp is currently home to 19,492 Congolese refugees.
Since its launch in 2014, the programme has achieved the following results:
- 30 young people in and around the Kigeme Refugee Camp have been trained in conflict-sensitive journalism.
- These 30 young people produce the camp newspaper ‘Kigeme Iwacu’, which is distributed in all the surrounding refugee camps.
- A short documentary film about life as a refugee and a non-refugee has been produced.
- Between 200 and 300 young people have benefited from peace-related activities such as theatre, CINEDUC and sport.
- 81 young refugees were granted a one-year scholarship to complete vocational training.
- 450 people (administrative staff at the refugee camp, religious authorities, single mothers and people with disabilities) received training in conflict resolution.
- 49 service providers benefited from various training courses on topics including non-violent conflict resolution, Do No Harm approaches and conflict-sensitive communication.