An international nongovernmental organization, African Initiative for Peacebuilding and Advancement (Afripeace), on Sunday launched a community-level reconciliation program in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.
Jos, a Central Nigerian city has witnessed several violent conflicts between Christian and Muslim populations over the past two decades.
Thousands of lives have been killed in the conflicts which have led to mutual suspicion and segregated settlements among residents.
The Afripeace project aims to “strengthen mechanisms for reconciliation and conflict recovery,” the project team leader, Dr. Chris Kwaja said at its launch in Dutse-Uku, a community rated as a high-risk conflict flashpoint.
The project to be implemented in Plateau and two other States with a history of ethno-religious violence – Kaduna and Kano, will build on existing structures to restore harmonious coexistence, Kwaja said at its launch .
“No community survives as a homogeneous society,” said the project pointsman.
Communities can therefore identify the common values in their diversities for common good, he said.
The project supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) according to Kwaja will work with all relevant stakeholders to identify and resolve issues of conflict.
The launch in a peace advocacy town hall meeting had in attendance, youth, women, community and vigilante group leaders from four target communities – Rikkos, Angwan Rukuba, Dutse Uku and Agwan Rimi am in Jos North Local Government Area.
The community representatives in their remarks lauded the initiative but appealed for efforts to reduce the growing problem of drug abuse among youths, which they regard as a key conflict driver.
Other problems identified include gang violence, youth restiveness and lack of support for the rebuilding of houses destroyed during the conflicts.