International Alert partnered with Global Peace Foundation to launch a campaign that is supporting local peace efforts in the Rwenzori – a region in western Uganda that was recently at the centre of deadly clashes between royalists and government security forces.
Nearly 300 people attended the official launch of the Peace in Rwenzori campaign last month in Kampala, including victims, women, young people, religious and cultural leaders, community-based organisations, and the media. They are all supporting inclusive and grassroots approaches to peacebuilding in the Rwenzori.
The campaign aims to assess the needs of all victims caught up in the violence and provide them with rehabilitation and psycho-social support.
“What happened in Kasese [a town in Rwenzori] was unfortunate. It is symptomatic of the deep-seated issues and injustices in the region. We hope that this campaign will support genuine reconciliation and initiatives that raise awareness of alternatives to violence in the Rwenzori region”, said our Uganda Country Manager Richard Businge (pictured above) at the launch.
“We need to rethink current priorities and focus on the real building blocks for peace such as health and an educated citizenry. This requires commitment from all the parties to this conflict, including our development partners, to support efforts to build peace in the Rwenzori.”
Rt. Hon. Enoch Muhindo, Rwenzururu Kingdom’s speaker of parliament, stressed that conflict in the region has stemmed from a lack of mutual respect. “This breeds fear which in turn hinders logical reasoning. It is this lack of logical reasoning that in turn leads to violent conflict.”
During the launch a representative of the Basongora, a tribe trying to break away from Rwenzururu Kingdom, was heckled by sections of the audience when criticising the Kingdom’s approach to dissent as undemocratic: “How can we imagine peace in Rwenzori, especially in Kasese, when cultural difference in the district is being suppressed?”
State Minister for Gender and Culture Hon. Peace Mutuzo also read a speech from the President of Uganda, who thanked organisers of the initiative and called for unity.
“It is worthwhile when different interest groups come together and campaign for peace. When we unite for peace, we win. Peace and security are core priority factors that spearhead development and transform societies”, she read.
The campaign will constantly remind people living in this divided region to start talking with one another as the first step to overcoming their ethnic, religious, political and economic differences, and building a future together.
Find out more about our work in Uganda.