Repentant Terrorists: NGO Trains Community Leaders and Women in Peacebuilding

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The European Union, in collaboration with the Borno State government and the British Council, trained a total of 250 community leaders and women on reconciliation and peacebuilding.

British Council Project Manager Mr Emmanuel Iyaji said so during a 3-day training on trauma, counseling and psychological support for leaders and stakeholders in Maiduguri, capital of Borno.

He disclosed that the project aims to support Nigerians in conflict resolution at state and community level.

He noted that the peacebuilding process required consultation, counseling and trauma programs for stakeholders who had suffered from the crisis.

“We have trained 200 traditional leaders including district, ward and village leaders on mediation and reintegration, as you can see now we are currently training 50 more women and other stakeholders on consolidation of peace, which includes counselling, trauma and others.”

“Community leaders are reluctant to the idea because they were largely not consulted during the design and implementation of the deradicalization program. This lack of consultation created a knowledge gap for leaders about the content of the de-radicalization agenda, particularly the extent to which the agenda addressed the ideological underpinnings of the insurgency.

“The expected outcome of the intervention is that traditional and religious leaders, as strategic leaders and gatekeepers, will understand the deradicalization agenda and the need for successful reintegration for lasting peace.

“The increased understanding will inspire them to become reintegration advocates and take action to promote community acceptance in their areas,” Emmanuel explained.

One of the participants, Aisha Kyari, pointed out that her perception of repentant fighters had changed after the peacebuilding programme.

She reiterated that it is important for the community to live with ex-combatants because peace is sacrosanct.

“We just have to forgive them, without peace there would be no development, so it is high time to forget the past,” Aisha said.

The program was funded by the European Union and implemented by the British Council and Managing Conflict in Nigeria (MCN) programme.

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