In 2021, KRC Uganda commissioned a team of 20 Community Peace Keepers (CPKs) in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe District to spearhead a campaign on Advancing Peaceful Co-existence & Respect for Human Rights among the refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda, through identifying, reporting, mitigating and referring conflict related situations amongst refugees and host communities.
The Community Peace Keepers were equipped with comprehensive skills in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Alternative to Violence Prevention (AVP), people to people, peace building skills, early warning, mobilization and documentation, Case management and basic Human Rights skills. The Community Peace Keepers have since registered tremendous milestones in the respective communities of Yangani Cluster-Zone 5 and Abirimajo cluster, zone 4 main.
- Community mobilization
Across the 12 villages of Yangani cluster in Zone 5, each village is represented by a Community Peace Keeper who is charged with the day-to-day affairs of his/her community. Leaders in this community have greatly appreciated the role of the peace keepers who have adversely mobilized their communities for various community initiatives including being. “…I can happily report that the peace keepers have eased our work as Refugee Welfare Councils, the neighbourhood watch has improved amongst members of the communities given the mobilization, guidance and various sessions conducted by the peace keepers. I am very hopeful that even crime rate is going to reduce…” remarked Mrs. Yunia Ataya Alfred, Deputy Refugee Welfare Council III, Yangani Cluster. She further noted that there is need for consistent monthly meetings where key issues from the findings of CPKs can be discussed and resolved or actions made
- Mediation and Case management
Mediation and management of domestic cases by community peace keepers has been well appreciated especially during the 2021 Christmas and new year festive season. Instant reports by CPKs indicated a number of domestic and criminal cases of which most were managed locally by CPKs themselves and others were referred to higher authorities as noted below:
- Domestic Violence cases at household levels (physical assault by male partners): 18 cases registered and resolved between December 17th 2021 to January 20th 2022.
- Child neglect and failure to provide necessities by male parents (food, scholastic materials and fees): 21 isolated cases were registered and mediated
- Violence Against Children (VAC) involves child battering by both parents: 7 cases were mediated of which one case was referred to police and resolved
- Drunkenness resulting into quarrels and disobedience at household level. Many cases were reported but only 2 that involved the intervention of CPKs, RWCs and Police were brought to the limelight. These 2 were resolved through guided mediation of various leaders including LCs, religious and other traditional leaders.
- Resource related cases over fuel wood, grass and poles for construction and grazing of animals in agriculture land. These were common during the peak of the festive season. 7 cases were reported to RWCs in Yangani and 3 cases in Abirimajo. CPKs, elders and traditional leaders were invited in meetings where these cases were resolved. In 3 of these cases CPKs and one religious leader would be picked to preside over their adjudication.
- Malicious damage: This case happened in Yangani where a drunkard husband fought with the wife over misuse of household money. This resulted into burning of their grass thatched house, killing of a cock and destruction of other household property. A Peace Keeper, Khemis Justine Lino immediately alerted Police which came to the rescue of the family, then arrested and apprehended the culprit. CPKs Chandiga Kennedy and Khemis were later invited to mediate on the issue and the family was reunited. This is one interesting case that is worthy following up and documenting.
Generally, the role of the Community Peace Keepers is highly esteemed both at community level and by the security agencies in the respective clusters. From the WhatsApp platform of the CPKs, some messages from the surrounding schools in Yangani were sent in with appreciation to CPKs for having mobilized and led the “Go Back to School Campaign.”
The common drivers of conflict in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement include among others; Land for Agriculture, water, men power over women resulting into Domestic and Gender Based Violence SGBV and Violence Against Women and Children (VAW, VAC) conflict over resources-water, theft, straying animals, unemployment among the youth and adultery.
Going forward, KRC Uganda will be equipping Peace Keepers with skills on how to keep a case journal to ease case documentation.