There is hope that the surge in violent attacks in communities near the Kenya-Ethiopian border is close to being contained. Local leaders have committed to end violent activities linked to extremist groups and communal disputes over land and other meagre resources.
The resolution was announced in a joint statement by government leaders, community elders, religious leaders, elected leaders, representatives of parties to conflict, security officials and various peace actors in that administrative region. In the declaration made public recently after a two-day symposium on preventing violent activities, the leaders agreed to champion local solutions for peace to reign in Mandera County.
“We the leaders and people of Mandera County realize that our common aspirations and prosperity lie on the immediate, firm and resolute action against the threat of violent extremism, radicalisation, inter-clan clashes and poverty,” the declaration reads in part.
Since 2014, Mandera county has been at the forefront of deadly attacks by terrorist groups and armed local militia carrying out raids and counter-attacks mainly on ethnic lines – which means the communities are not only exposed to insecurity, but have also lost a chance to live together in harmony.
The decision by Mandera County leaders to end all forms of violence has been welcomed by Interpeace in Kenya as proof that lasting solutions for peace require local ownership.
“Peace cannot be imported from outside. Meaningful and sustainable conflict resolution requires bringing together everyone and ensuring that they participate in the process. That’s what we see happening in Mandera county now. It is a laudable initiative,” said Hassan Ismail, Interpeace’s Kenya Country Representative.
More communities in Kenya should openly express, in their own terms, how they understand threats to peace and security in their areas and act to address these challenges, emphasized Mr Ismail.
He added: “Mandera communities are setting an example and we at Interpeace together with our partner the National Cohesion and Integration Commission of Kenya (NCIC) remain committed to supporting the implementation of these resolutions to foster a culture of peace and promote social cohesion”.
Interpeace and NCIC in partnership with the County Government of Mandera has resettled 1,970 households in Banisa Sub County, that were displaced recently following the killing of 19 persons in attacks linked to cross border revenge on the Kenya-Ethiopia border. The resettlement process started in December 2019 after the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the Garre and Degodia community.
Since 2016, NCIC and Interpeace have carried out research in consultation with communities in Mandera County, identified several barriers to peaceful coexistence and are now supporting peace processes to address violent conflict and sustain peace in the long term.
Currently, Interpeace and NCIC are setting up a regional peace and cohesion centre in Mandera to support cross-border peace initiatives.