Do you believe peace is possible? We do.
Together we can make it happen.
In conflict areas worldwide local people are building peace. Stopping violence, saving lives, healing shattered communities.
Thousands of people around the world have chosen to help them - to stand up for peace and show these local heroes they are not alone. Peace Direct helps them, and you can help them too.
Local people building peace around the world
In the world’s most difficult and dangerous conflicts, local peacebuilders are making a real difference. Every day they risk their lives to build peace and prevent conflict in the places where it starts – locally.
These local heroes can work in places outsiders can't reach. And stay long after the immediate danger has passed. They work tirelessly for the future of their country because it is, quite simply, their home.
Local people have the power to find their own solutions to conflict – and to build their own better futures. Together we can make this happen.
Click the images below to find out how local people are building peace around the world.
BurundiMobilising young people to reject armed militias and prevent a civil war.
BurundiPreventing election violence in Burundi
DR CongoRescuing child soldiers, disarming militias and resettling civilians.
DR CongoHelping war victims and uniting villages in peace councils.
Israel-PalestineBringing young Israelis and Palestinians together.
PakistanHelping young people to resist recruitment by violent extremist groups.
PhilippinesOvercoming prejudice and religious divides.
SomaliaPreventing violence and creating jobs
Sri LankaTraining young people to build peace across the divides of war.
Action for Peace and Development, Burundi
Burundi is a small country that has suffered nearly five decades of violence and grave human rights abuses. Since gaining independence in 1962, some 300, 000 people have died as a result of violence between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. And although the last rebel group laid down their weapons in 2009, the situation remains fragile.
65% of the population is under the 20, and it is vital that they are fully involved in the opportunity for peace. This is why local hero Landry Ninteretse started Action for Peace and Development (APD}, a youth group that engages young people in building peace and democracy in Burundi.
APD is setting up peace clubs in high schools, where students will learn the skills they need to resist political violence. The peace clubs are also a place where young people can develop their own practical ideas for how to achieve a more peaceful, tolerant and democratic society. The young peacebuilders will share this with their peers, families and communities and to a wider audience through radio shows.
Burundi has continued to suffer from conflict since its last general election, in 2010. With new polls scheduled for the middle of 2015, tension is rising and fears are high that political disputes will end in violence. Young men are being recruited into militia groups, journalists are filing reports of harassment, and opposition politicians and human rights activists have been arrested.
INAMA is working to help defuse this situation. It is an early warning and response network, formed by 29 Burundian peace organisations. It trains citizen journalists to monitor and report violent events around the country, and then acts on these reports to defuse tensions quickly.
The reporters map and monitor electoral violence and peace initiatives, inform the relevant authorities of developing situations, and foster dialogue between citizens, local government and others working to build a peaceful democracy in Burundi. This model has already been used on a small scale in the 2010 elections in Burundi, and on a larger scale in Kenya during the post-election violence of 2013.
Centre Résolution Conflits, DR Congo
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo}, the second largest country in Africa, conflicts have raged for more than a decade killing over 5,000,000 people and forcing 2,500,000 million people to abandon their homes. Here, local peacebuilder Henri Ladyi has dedicated his life to building a peace that will last.
Henri is the co-ordinator of local peacebuilding organisation Centre Résolution Conflits (CRC) based in the Eastern Congo, a region which has been most vulnerable to conflict. The CRC:
- Rescues child soldiers and finds a place for ex-militia members within communities and work with them to reintegrate into society, finding them work and supportive networks so that they will be able to leave violence behind them. The CRC understands that, although many boys and men who have been drawn into militia groups want to stop fighting, they often cannot see any other way.
- Provides assistance to communities to manage the return of people forced to leave their communities during the conflict.
- Helps communities to reject violence in the long-term by supporting communities to help themselves through conflict prevention committees.
Fondation Chirezi, DR Congo
The human cost of the war in Eastern Congo is horrifying. In the height of the violence many women suffered systematic rape at the hands of the armed groups and thousands of children were orphaned and left vulnerable.
Local hero Flory Kazingufu believes that as much of the violence in South Kivu now happens at the community level, any remedy for conflict must come from within these communities. Flory set up The Chirezi Foundation to build peace and change lives by finding alternatives for these victims of war, the women and children and their communities.
Flory set up traditional peace courts, to reach villages through the commitment of trained community volunteers of peace and community parliaments. These peace courts offer local people a way to handle the conflicts they face in everyday life, without violence.
The long-running conflict in Israel-Palestine continues to claim lives. The violence of summer 2014 left more than 2000 people dead and, with a long history of unsuccessful peace initiatives, the region appears no closer to a lasting settlement.
In this deeply divided context, Heartbeat works to build trust from the ground up. Founded by Aaron Shneyer while on a Fulbright-mtvU scholarship in 2007, it brings together young musicians from across the area to make music, build understanding and promote peaceful social change. Working with Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Arab young people, it organises music-based workshops and camps, as well as developing performance ensembles in Haifa, Jerusalem and Jaffa-Tel Aviv.
Heartbeat’s staff are trained dialogue facilitators and professional musicians, and develop students’ skills in song-writing, music theory and improvisation. They also work on their communication and leadership abilities – helping them to engage with each other and the conflict issues that involve them, while quite literally amplifying their voices to help spread the message of peace.
Aware Girls, Pakistan
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is one of the most fragile states in Pakistan. Religious extremism has grown to become one of the biggest security threats. Militant groups have been known to incite extremism and violence, increasingly amongst young people. The government has struggled to maintain control in the region.
For women especially, extremism has led to growing insecurity – many fear kidnap or worse. Local hero Gulalai Ismail is working with women and young people to create real change.
At just 16 Gulalai Ismail set up Aware Girls with a group of school friends to change the lives of young women in Pakistan. They began by focusing on women’s rights, and as their membership has grown, they are now training young activists to build peace, challenging violence and extremism.
For decades the Philippines has been victim to a bloody armed struggle between the government and Muslim separatists seeking an independent state in southern parts of the country. At least 150,000 people have been killed and, since 2000, three million people have been forced to flee their homes. Recent peace talks have raised hopes that an end to the conflict is in sight. But the violence has left a legacy of suspicion and mistrust between Christian and Muslim communities.
Kapamagogopa International (KI) is bringing the two communities back together in Mindanao, the region worst affected by the conflict. They counteract prejudice between Muslims and Christians by introducing Muslim volunteers into community organisations across the region. By empowering Muslim volunteers to apply their talents in other communities, Kapamagogopa bridge the deep-rooted religious divides between them.
In 2013 KI won an award in the Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition, our annual search for the best emerging peacebuilders worldwide.
Somalia Project, Somalia
Peace Direct has been funded by the EU to launch a new project in Somalia, one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Years of civil war, famine, piracy and attacks by extremist groups have made Somalia one of the deadliest and poorest countries we have worked in so far.
Peace Direct’s new project will be based in the city of Kismayo in the south-east. The city is home to some 40 rival clans and 2,000 militia members, all competing for political and economic power.
Our project is funded by the European Union for three years. It aims to help young people – a key group for preventing violence and rebuilding civil society.
The first element of the project is to train 1,460 young men in leadership, conflict transformation and organisational management. This will give them the skills to manage and defuse tensions before they spark into violence.
Participants will go on to train and encourage other young people to get their voices heard in local decision-making. This peer-to-peer approach has already been successful in our youth programmes in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The second element is to give participants vocational training and apprenticeships, so that they have solid job skills to earn a living. Some will also be given micro-loans to set up their own small businesses. This will reduce poverty and alienation, so that young people do not turn to the black market or violent extremism for their living or their sense of identity.
This is the kind of change we champion: practical action at the grassroots that makes a lasting difference to people’s lives.
Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Sri Lanka
For nearly 30 years, Sri Lanka has been scarred by a bitter civil war driven by ethnic tensions. Although the war ended in 2009, tensions between ethnic groups remain high. If left to simmer below the surface, these tensions could threaten the fragile peace Sri Lanka is working to build.
Local hero Dishani Jayaweera is determined to replace mistrust and fear with co-existence and harmony. In 2003 Dishani set up the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR).
CPBR believes that change has to come from individuals. And works with young people and religious leaders to build a united Sri Lanka guided by compassion, justice and respect for diversity. CPBR has reached out to all of the religious groups in Sri Lanka – Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, Muslim Islamic, and Tamil and Sinhalese Christians.
They bring together religious leaders to openly discuss what the future holds for their communities. These leaders go on to promote inter-community activities that bring people together regardless of religion or ethnicity.
They have also set up the Young Visionaries programme to train the next generation of leaders to help people live together and prevent any further hostility or violence.
Years of political and economic crisis have thrown many people in Zimbabwe into abject poverty. 80% of people are unemployed. With this number only set to rise, people have few options.
Envision was set up following the election turmoil in 2008 which caused worsening political violence, a breakdown of infrastructure and a nationwide outbreak of cholera. Their aim is to bring diverse groups together to lead their own development.
Envision is mobilising women’s groups, interfaith groups and other community groups to take control of their own lives and the future of their communities.
Tomorrow's Peacebuilders, Tomorrow's Peacebuilders
Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders is a new award recognising the best emerging local peace organisations in conflict-affected countries. It looks for innovative ways to promote peace, led by local people in their own communities. It aims to find and recognise the best emerging peace organisations led by local people, in conflict-affected countries worldwide
You can make a difference today by standing up for peace.
Without people like you, none of this would be possible. Local peacebuilders take strength from your support. Because of you, they can dedicate their lives to building peace in the world's most difficult and dangerous places.
Paul Vallely, the Independent.