the hopeful nation:
Ethiopian prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Abiy Ahmed has given the country the hope to embark on a journey of peace after decades of war and conflict. Therefore, Release Peace sees a historic opportunity to address the massive issue of small arms proliferation in Ethiopia and destroy the weapons that have cost so many lives. We are currently setting up a programme that will save lives. Read more below.
What are the security challenges in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is made up of dozens of ethnic groups. Armed conflicts between those groups as well as with government forces have cost lives in the country for decades. There is a constant threat hanging above the heads of ordinary people that a new conflict might break out any time. That’s what we seek to prevent. As often, innocent civilians, many of whom children, are caught in the middle of conflicts out of no fault of their own. By removing weapons in some of Ethiopia’s rural communities, we prevent them from being used. We are therefore in the process of setting up a programme that will give rural communities useful tools, training in return for handing in their firearms. Read more about it in the box below.
It is paramount to identify for each community separately what their needs are and what support they are willing to accept in return for handing in a certain number of weapons. We do not follow a “one size fits all” approach. We never hand out money in return for guns. Previous experiences by the UN and others have shown that this can incentivise people to buy even more guns. Our approach therefore relies on giving them useful items or training that the community itself expressed a need for. The financial value of what we offer should always be lower than that of a gun.
Over 90% of the rural population of Ethiopia are farmers. Farming is the predominant way to receive an income, afford school fees, etc. To receive better farming equipment, seeds, training or other valuable skills and items can therefore be worth much more to the local community than owning a firearm. Our initiative therefore aims to proverbially kill two birds with one stone: Reduce the number of weapons in rural areas and improve the living conditions by giving people the tools to improve their lives.
These regions of Ethiopia will be the focus of our work:
The Oromia region includes large swathes of Ethiopia and is among the most conflict-prone areas of the country. The Somali region is bordered on two sides by the country Somalia. Both regions are in urgent need to reduce the number of weapons in circulation that are often used to settle personal feuds between ethnic groups.