In DR Congo radio is one of the few reliable forms of mass communication – and perhaps the only way to reach people deep in the bush. Yet those people — the militias at the centre of one of the world’s deadliest conflicts – are those who local peacebuilding organisation, the Centre Résolution Conflits (CRC) is most determined to speak to. The CRC wants to call on them to put down their guns and come home. To do this he has helped form 119 Radio Clubs in communities all across eastern DR Congo.
Many of those fighting in the bush joined militia to protect their communities as civil war ripped through eastern Congo. Yet as the war continued and the scale of atrocity grew, many became more and more embroiled in the fighting. Today, they tell the CRC they wish to return home, to wage peace not war.
Fear stops many fighters coming home. Fear of harassment from the army. Fear of community retribution for their past crimes. Fear of not having the means to support themselves outside of the armed groups. Radio club broadcasts challenge these fears directly. Often those speaking are the former fighters themselves. They want to tell their comrades it’s safe. Encourage them to come home too. They show that there is an alternative to life in the bush.
The radio clubs not only encourage fighters home, but lay the foundations for them to build a new life. The broadcasts talk of behavioural change – how to resolve conflict not react to it – so that when outside of the militia,their communities will not fear them.. Radio clubs also speak to communities which may, naturally, fear the return of those that may have committed terrible crimes. The radio clubs can show how accepting former fighters can benefit, not burden, communities. This focus on both fighters and communities make cases of people returning to the bush rare.
The radio clubs go from strength to strength but need your support if they are to continue to make a difference. Make a gift today and you could help the CRC speak to those hardest to reach, and call on them to put down their guns and bring peace to DR Congo.