In honour of the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping, young poets use their abilities to advance peace

Date:

In honour of the 75th anniversary of UN peacekeeping

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Pacifique Akilimali, a poet and peace activist from Nigeria, wrote the poem with Maryam Abu Hassan. “

  • In Borno state, figuring out how to prosper, Maryam is motivated by the fortitude of the people of Borno state. For more than ten years has been the epicentre of violent extremism and terrorism in Nigeria and the Sahel.

  • According to numerous reports, violence, strife, and insurgency are prevalent in Borno, says Maryam.

  • Borno state and the eastern DRC are only two of the many areas that have seen a protracted conflict that is now dominated by multiple armed groups, with the majority of the victims being civilians.

  • The complete poem by Maryam and Pacifique will be published closer to May 29, 2023, the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

The poem, titled “Peace begins with me,” honours the grit and resiliency of conflict-affected people and individuals who support their efforts to rebuild their lives and means of subsistence. It serves as a reminder of our duty to advance peace in our communities, nations, and the world. Since 1948, more than two million men and women have served in more than 70 peacekeeping operations due to this commitment.

Pacifique Akilimali, a poet and peace activist from Nigeria, wrote the poem with Maryam Abu Hassan. “Peace is everything to me,” she says. “War has been my only experience since birth; peace has long been a dream of mine.”

Pacifique, a member of the MONUSCO aviation crew and a native of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was raised among the devastation caused by decades of violent conflict in North Kivu.

Maryam, a native of Nigeria’s Borno state, where a continuous insurgency and violent extremism have tormented residents for more than ten years, adds, “All the wars and battles have gotten us nowhere.

Almost 300 schoolgirls, commonly known as the Chibok girls, were abducted by Boko Haram, an armed separatist group, in a northeastern state nine years ago. Many of them are still unaccounted for today.

Maryam believes that “peace is not only the absence of conflict but also the existence of justice, equality, and respect for human dignity. Everyone has a right to peace and to find it.

In Goma, North Kivu, growing up

The DRC’s North Kivu was not an easy place to grow up, claims Pacifique.

The genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when he was born, propelled the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into one of the bloodiest wars in African history. The International Rescue Committee estimates that the fighting in the DRC caused 5.4 million deaths between 1998 and 2007.

“I was a refugee with my entire family in 1997. My dad was going to be shot because certain military personnel believed he belonged to a different ethnic group, says Pacifique. He adds that his father narrowly spared death when one of the rebel chiefs recognized him and released them. A group of rebels took my dad and me.

“I recall the UN Mission visiting my nation, and my father told me they were coming to bring us peace,” the student said.

To monitor the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement between the DRC and its neighbouring nations of Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, the UN Security Council formed the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) in 1999.

In response to the persistence of armed conflict, particularly in the east, the Council established MONUSCO as an extension of MONUC. The new mission’s mandate was expanded to include protecting civilians, facilitating humanitarian access, and assisting former combatants in disarming and reintegrating into society.

Pacifique states, “Goma town is still living,” while referring to the resilience of people in North Kivu that have endured so much tragedy and suffering. If you visit this village, you’ll be perplexed about how the residents smile, sing, dance, fall in love, and hold out hope amidst such hardships. We all in this room pray and hope for peace.

In Borno state, figuring out how to prosper

Maryam is motivated by the fortitude of the people of Borno state, which for more than ten years has been the epicentre of violent extremism and terrorism in Nigeria and the Sahel.

An estimated 2 million individuals have been displaced by the armed conflict that organizations like Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province sparked. Many displaced persons are women and children who cannot go home because of unanticipated attacks against civilians.

According to numerous reports, violence, strife, and insurgency are prevalent in Borno, says Maryam. Equally valid is that we are so much more than just this one story.

“Borno is a state with a dynamic history and traditions passed down through the years. It is a culturally diverse and prosperous state. Despite everything, we have managed to survive and even prosper.

75 years of maintaining peace

A vital worldwide tool for preserving peace, security, and stability for the past 75 years, UN Peacekeeping, has developed to keep up with the shifting political climate and the character of conflicts.

What began as a mission to monitor a ceasefire in Palestine in 1948 has evolved into a complicated operation involving military, police, and civilians cooperating to enable towns and nations to transition from conflict to peace.

Borno state and the eastern DRC are only two of the many areas that have seen a protracted conflict that is now dominated by multiple armed groups, with the majority of the victims being civilians.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, civilians comprise nearly 90% of wartime casualties worldwide (OCHA).

Peacekeepers work alongside local populations to protect civilians, disarm combatants, assist political and electoral processes, strengthen human rights and the rule of law, and advance lasting peace and development.

Although they go by the name “Blue Helmets,” they work in various capacities, including those of engineers, administrators, legal professionals, economists, and electoral observers, to assist those who need help recovering and reestablishing their lives, institutions, and society.

The 75th anniversary, observed under the banner “Peace begins with me,” honours those who work daily to promote peace, including peacekeepers, activists, and local community leaders.

The complete poem by Maryam and Pacifique will be published closer to May 29, 2023, the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

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