In 2019, the world marked 100 years since the Treaty of Versailles, 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and 25 years since the Rwandan genocide. Looking to and learning from the past should guide us to combat intolerance and ignorance, and ensure we don’t forget past injustices, or those whose lives have been devastated by them.
Reflections on the past should serve to remind us that the important work to end wars, tear down walls, and put a stop to violent conflict continues every day. This courageous work is done around the world by people and communities whose work often falls beneath the radar of televised celebrations and publicised commemorations.
In our 2019 Impact Report, I’m proud to share with you the milestones we celebrated as an organisation, made possible by remarkable peacebuilders around the world, and thanks to your continued support. Last year, our work benefitted over 28,000 people.
There were many highlights. For example, working with our partners in DR Congo, 952 children affected by conflict were able to return to school in 2019. We worked in collaboration with over 40 organisations in Mali, to improve local responses to violence through small grants. We supported civic education training for 832 young people in Somalia to develop activities to build their livelihoods after conflict. Through two urgent fundraising appeals, we raised over £30,000 to support crisis response for our partners in DRC and Sri Lanka.
2019 was also one of the most difficult years in Peace Direct’s history, for us and those we work closely with. In July our dear friend and colleague, Abdullahi Isse, Executive Director of SADO, our local partner in Somalia, tragically lost his life in a suicide attack in Kismayo. We share more about Isse, an inspiring peacebuilder, and his important work later in this report. In Sri Lanka, the suicide attacks against the primarily Catholic community on Easter Sunday shocked the world and ran the risk of undoing years of reconciliation efforts, so we mobilised funding and support as quickly as we could for our local partner, CPBR. Gulalai Ismail, co-founder of partner Aware Girls in Pakistan, faced threats to her life and harassment from state authorities. We did all we could to support her and get her to safety. In Sudan, the revolution that brought to an end the rule of Omar El Bashir also led to a violent crackdown on civil society organisations, and staff from our local partner, CfPS, were forced to flee the country. And in November, a representative of our local partner, the Beni Peace Forum, died tragically in a plane crash in Goma, Eastern Congo. These are just some examples of the challenges we faced together, and they serve as a reminder that while we achieved many great things, the job of building peace requires incredible bravery, resilience, and persistence, against the odds.
As we came together as a peacebuilding community to remember the colleagues who we lost and those who suffered so many hardships this year, as well as those whose lives were cut short due to violent conflict, we are constantly reminded of the strength and courage of peacebuilders around the world who believe in, and work for a better more peaceful world.
We hope that with your continued support, we can look back together on the day we made peace a practical reality, for all.
With thanks and hope,