Ethiopia: Refugees from five African countries participate in peace workshop
26 November 2010

By training refugees as peace facilitators JRS wants to ensure that children like these, playing at the refugee community centre in Addis, grow up in a more peaceful environment than their parents. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
"Through a humanising process of teaching and learning, peace educators facilitate human development."

Addis Ababa, 1 November 2010 – The JRS Refugee Community Centre (RCC) in Addis Ababa organised a three-day workshop on peace education for urban refugees of five different nationalities, from October 27-29.

The workshop aimed to encourage each participant to be an individual agent of peace, brainstorming the consequences of war and social injustice, the value of peace and just social structures, imagining a peaceful future and encouraging participants to care for oneself and others.

Thirty refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, and Sudan took part in the workshop to serve as peacemakers in their respective communities. During the three days they had a chance to look at their attitudes, perceptions and lifestyles, all influenced by conflict and war.

In a welcoming speech Mulugeta W/Eyesus, JRS Project Director, read a quotation from Nelson Mandela on peace: "We enter into a covenant that we shall build a society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity - a rainbow at peace with itself and the world."

"This quotation reminds me of the vision of JRS; that is, seeing a world free of all sorts of injustices," Mr W/Eyesus said. Among numerous official statements on the importance of peace education, the United Nations state: "Through a humanising process of teaching and learning, peace educators facilitate human development. They strive to counteract the dehumanisation of poverty, prejudice, discrimination, rape, violence and war" (UNESCO, 1945).

Truth, love, peace and mercy

Since peace building is essentially building relationships, participants discussed how to begin building mutual and trustful relationships, touching on their own experiences. They concluded that safe and hospitable spaces, acts of graciousness and love, and shared places where people discover and build something new are necessary elements for peace to prevail. They also remembered that truth, love, peace and mercy are important pillars in teaching peace education and that their interconnectedness is essential for a peaceful world.

"We thank JRS for giving us such a magnificent chance to bring different nationalities together and share issues of peace and conflict," a participant from Sudan said at the end of the workshop which was facilitated by the coordinator of the Peace and Justice Department of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS).

As part of its mission, JRS Refugee Community Centre strives to promote trust and friendliness, the peaceful resolution of conflict and a culture of forgiveness and tolerance among refugees in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, since 1996.

Press Contact Information
Angelika Mendes
+254 20 3874152