INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2015
On 21st September every year the world celebrates “peace” day with the aim of raising the awareness of communities around the world the importance and significance of peace. This is usually done through undertaking several activities from radio programs to mass marching to organizing peace assembly/conferences. However, what does the day means to countries that engulfed by conflicts and civil war like Somalia?
What does this day means to Somalia?
Somalia with now over two decades of conflict, the word “peace” is even hardly understood by its citizens, majority of the population were born either in the early stage of the civil war probably around 1991 or after that. Since the outbreak of the war, thousands and thousands lost their lives, other injured, uncountable number of people were disabled, affected in a way or another, for the lucky ones sought refuge in neighboring countries, others thought the fire might come after them and escaped to far western countries in Europe and USA through painful trips, risking their lives by crossing seas and oceans. For the unlucky ones who were not able to escape the fire remained with the status of being “internally Disabled Persons (IDPs)” and were forced to suffer one of the most painful natural and man-made disasters humans witnessed on earth.
The pain that never gets out.
Somalia, being considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, was never be comfortable for its residents, all forms of violations against humanity have been witnessed by the world, although international community tried its best to lessen the casualties of civil war by sending international peace keepers and organizing many peace assemblies as part of several peace restoring initiatives, however, it all seemed all those efforts did not work. The war has reached its peak in 1994 when the people divided intro clans and sub-clans each one of them fighting for power hunger. As a result, practice of impunity has become everyday reality, killing of innocent civilians was considered to be something proud and there was time where the man with the Ak47 is the ruler of his village, women and girls were raped countlessly and mercilessly, properties and personal belongings were taken forcibly forcing many of the population to be marginalized. Warlords becomes rules of the cities. In 2000, another efforts undertaken by the international community, Transitional National Government (TNG) was formed just to satisfy the warring factions at that not for the interest of the community and the country and it ended in late 2003 without achieving mothering but political conflicts which went into deeper escalation. In 2012 another government was formed for the same purpose.
The other phase of the war!
Worse of all, the war has taken another level when it turned to ideology-based mentality and consequently terrorist groups has emerged in the country. Somalia’s problem has then changed from country-level crisis to regional and even global crisis.
What peace means to Somalia? The positive aspect
Somalia is a beautiful country with stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes but it is also a land recovering from a 20 year civil war which has seen families ripped apart, home destroys and building turned into ruins. Peace is a concept that the people of Somalia desire and have only recently experienced after two decades of bloodshed.
To us peace means that we can start to rebuild our country brick by brick, house by house, building by building, and region by region. It means we can start to plan for the future without the fear of it being taken away from us which includes educating our children so they can learn from the previous generation’s mistakes so they don’t repeat it but instead start to build a better Somalia then the one their grandparents knew.
Peace means that the families who left Somalia to escape from the war can finally come home to show their children where they are from. Peace means those Somalis who lived and were educated most of their lives in other countries will feel safe enough to return Somalia in order to be part of the rebuilding of their country which has so much potential.
Peace means that our children are inspired to go to school and learn because they understand at the end when they gain the knowledge they can better their lives and the lives of their family because their education is valued instead of it being meaningless as it was for their parents. Peace means that our children live long enough to become adults. Peace means that our children stay in school and they are not running outside with a gun.
Peace means Somali people could depend on their government for public services and hold them account for their actions. Peace means Police officers would patrol Somalia’s streets instead of the Army. Peace means that the Somali people stop fearing their own Army. Peace means the Army is not used to coerce or forcefully control the people. Peace means the Army is used to protect the people from foreign threats and not on the people.
Peace means that Somalia can become a tourist destination to other countries. Peace means that Somalia culture, art and landscapes will be shared with the rest of the world. Peace means that the Somali people could share their views and ideas while as well as being influenced and inspired by the rest of the world. Peace means Somalia can be part of developing innovative technology that would help the rest of the world. Peace means Somalia will be part of humanitarian efforts to help those in need.
Conclusion (the final words)
Peace means so much to Somalis more than any other country in the world because they have been living more two decades under chaotic environment, in this regards, we call for all Somalis including our leaders, influential, women, youth, teachers, students, to support the peace process of this country with the help of the international community, we need to make sure that our grandchildren not to suffer the way today’s generation have suffered.