Every autumn the world celebrates the International Day of Peace, which this year focused on “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All.” Sedrick Ntwali is a former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, founder and director of Young African Refugees for Integral Development, public speaker, and refugee advocate. Below he draws the connection between peace work and dignity for victims of violence and persecution. As a leader in his community and in the 2015 Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy, he shares his perspective and calls us all to work toward a peaceful world.
The International Day of Peace, observed annually, is a day dedicated to promoting world peace and the absence of war and violence. However, this year we are reminded that there are more forcibly displaced people than at any other time since World War II. Conflict and war are scattered all over and we have seen an increase in the number of refugees and immigrants in this century.
The most recent issue is the mass migration of Syrian refugees to Europe who seek peace and stability. However, the world must also recognize the killing of millions of Congolese, Sudanese, and Somalis that led many to flee their countries as refugees as well. Women were raped, children recruited to join armed groups, and war persists.
I was a victim of violence and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I was born in the DRC and I never experienced peace in my country. My generation was born into war, violence, and conflict. Imagine being born in a country where gunshots have become the songs for kids, children’s games are games of war, and they are forced to learn words like rape, kidnapped, refugee, disappeared, burn, dead. No child should be born into this life.
Yet I have not lost hope. I still believe that peace is possible and that now is the time to act. Many countries have been in conflict and war for over twenty years with hope for peace one day, but not enough has been done to help them achieve this. I observe the International Day of Peace by reflecting on what is going on in the world and thinking of what can be done to have a peaceful world.
My recommendation to the United Nations, the United States of America, and all the stakeholders in different countries is to stand together to end war and conflicts in affected countries. Welcoming migrants and refugees into our countries is just the beginning. We must create sustainable and durable peace in countries affected by war – it is the only solution to end the current conflict and mass migration of refugees and to create a peaceful world.
I believe that the only way to end conflict and war is to establish sustainable peace in those countries affected. Durable peace for me means no fear of persecution or death, peace means security, peace means development and opportunity, peace means justice and equality.
With durable peace in Syria and Afghanistan, millions of people would not have to flee their own country.
With durable peace in the Congo, women and girls would not be raped.
With durable peace in Sudan, there would be no more mass killings.
With durable peace in Central Africa, there would be no killings because of religion or culture.
With durable peace in Somalia, there would be no more El-Shabab or Al-Qaeda.
I believe durable peace is possible and we cannot wait any longer, this is the time.
What do you hope for in the world in the next 10 years? Share your dreams for peace in your community and in the world below in the comments.