BOSASSO, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland Somalia, is 1,500km northeast of Mogadishu and has become the port of call for thousands of the displaced people from southern Somalia. Puntland, which declared its semi-autonomous status in 1998, is relatively peaceful compared to Somalia proper, which has been wracked by violence since former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
Many Mogadishu residents continue to flee to Bosasso and its surroundings, either to seek shelter with relatives, in camps for the displaced or for others to attempt the perilous boat crossing to the Arabian Peninsula. It is in this coastal city that GNRC Africa in partnership with the Somali Organization for Community Development Activities (SOCDA) conducted a peace building workshop on the 14th of January 2008.
34 youths of ages between 14 and 18 years from the more than 8 villages that surround Bossaso were invited in this peace training workshop. They included students, youth organizationsí representatives, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and minority groupsí representatives. The peace building workshop covered topics from definition of peace and conflict, factors that enhance or erode peace, conflict mapping in the villages in Bosasso, methods used when solving conflicts and strategies of peace building.
Participants described the workshop as being quite useful since they acquired skills and knowledge on various aspects of peace and peace building. They also pledged to apply lessons learned during the workshop to solve the conflicts among the youth in their respective villages.
The methods used at the workshop were participatory and included brief lectures, group discussions, story telling sessions, questions and answers sessions and power point presentations. The participants agreed to form the Bossaso peace club and even came up with several objectives for the club which include; reconciliation, youth integration and awareness on peace building issues and prevention of conflicts among youths. They youths also took the responsibility of nominating committee members to the club- three boys and two girls and recommended follow up activities to promote peace in Puntland and indeed in the whole of Somalia.
Using the Bosasso peace club as a starting point GNRC Africa in partnership with SOCDA has already initiated the establishment of more peace clubs in Puntland especially within the primary and secondary schools in the area.