The Association of Displaced Muslim Women from the Mosque Central held a "Fire Reconciliation ceremony" during the community event at Koudkou School in Bangui's Third Arrondissement on 19 August. IOM provided technical support with funding from the European Union. © IOM 2014
Published 19 August, 2014
IOM - An extraordinary community event took place on 16th August in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui. It took place in the Third District and was organized by the Association of Young Muslims and the Association of Displaced Muslim Women from the Mosque Central.
More than 1,000 people attended the peaceful community gathering at Koudoukou School, which included a football match, reconciliation fire ceremony, a theatre performance, and traditional music and dance. IOM provided technical support with funding from the European Union.
Koudoukou School is on Avenue Koudoukou, known as the “Avenue of Death,” the site of the some of the most gruesome violence of the CAR crisis. The area continues to be one of the most volatile regions in all of CAR.
The community event had been scheduled for the end of Ramadan, but because of tensions and security concerns was postponed until mid-August. It aimed to provide a positive community experience and open a possibility for dialogue between community members in the Third District, authorities and outside communities. Several attendees had not been to the Third District since December.
The football match was between teams from the Association of Young Muslims “Beau Sejour,” and the Community of Saint Mathias Youth Association, both community organizations from the Third District. Players warmly congratulated each other at the end of the game. The Beau Sejour team won the match 1-0. Their football league has not played since December when violence intensified in Bangui. IOM supported this first match to restart the season in Koudoukou School which had closed to the community due to presence of armed groups and military.
The Association of Young Muslims, and the Association of Displaced Muslim Women at the Mosque Central planned the entire event. They invited African Union (MISCA) Forces, EUFOR, European Union Delegation, religious authorities, youth association representatives, the district administration, as well as local media who all attended. Everyone was impressed that the event went smoothly and demonstrated a will for peaceful cohabitation.
The Advisor to the Mayor of the Third District said: “This is the first time that Koudoukou School, which serves as a base for MISCA-Burundi, has been used since the violence arose in Bangui last year. Many of the people attending today were or are still displaced; they are thrilled to leave to see their community returning to normalcy. People thought that bringing the communities together like this was impossible. There is clearly a will to work together. IOM has been consistently present since beginning their work and is bringing tangible results.”
Months of fighting between armed groups in CAR has left dozens of neighbourhoods in Bangui devastated and thousands of people destitute. Attendees commented that the event changed the neighborhood climate; they feel like they can resume normal activities, like playing football on a Saturday.
The goal of IOM’s Community Stabilization Program is to increase social cohesion and to support peaceful co-habilitation between communities through economic revitalization, infrastructure rehabilitation, and promotion of grassroots events for dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion.
The program aims at carrying out rehabilitation work with local associations and providing economic opportunities for the most vulnerable community members, with a focus on the Third and Fifth Districts. Among other activities, over the 18-month project span, over 300 community events will be held in Bangui.
As part of the economic revitalization component, over 4,000 people (49 per cent women) have already participated in “Cash for Work” activities, which include cleaning roads and public spaces, rehabilitating markets and drainage systems, and collecting garbage at sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Cash for Work activities are currently running in Bangui’s First, Third, and Fifth Districts with 1,000 participants per month. The activity provides economic inputs and enables beneficiaries to work together across communities.
For more information please contact IOM Bangui
Tel. +236 7218 7635
Tel. +236 7276 3411