*Peace Direct is appalled at the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. *We are deeply troubled by the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. Conflict between the countries has already cost the lives of 14,000 people since 2014. There appear to be no signs of abatement.
Existing tensions have grown as President Putin recognised the independence of the two breakaway regions of Ukraine and ordered military troops into the east of the country. This was followed by a major military assault on Ukraine.
Our local correspondent, based in Kyiv, shared with us the fear and anxiety that many Ukrainians feel:
“Until two days ago, when Russia illegally recognised Ukrainian separatist regions, I was among the majority keeping calm. I hadn’t packed my emergency bag in case I suddenly had to leave. The morning after Donetsk and Luhansk were recognised, me and other sceptics who still thought an invasion was unlikely, started packing our emergency bags and checking the nearest bomb shelter on the map, just in case. We don’t know if we will need these measures, but it feels safer somehow.
"The morning after Donetsk and Luhansk were recognised, me and other sceptics who still thought an invasion was unlikely, started packing our emergency bags and checking the nearest bomb shelter on the map, just in case.
“The situation now feels identical to the one in February 2014. Putin’s actions seem unpredictable. There are many different scenarios, and nearly all of them scare me and other Ukrainians. Most of the people living in Kyiv don’t plan on moving to the west of Ukraine, where it is believed to be the safest, or going elsewhere. Either they have nowhere to go, can’t afford to move, or both.
“Despite the uncertainty, local peacebuilders and NGOs will stay and deliver. They are continuing conflict resolution and mediation training in Kyiv for people from Donbas, including for those who live along the contact line. They want to create a safety net for them, and hope and pray that the journey back to Donbas will be a safe one. Local peacebuilders also provide humanitarian support to the people of Donbas who have been affected by the intensified shelling over the last few days. The motto these days for Ukrainians like me is ‘Do not spread panic, but be ready for anything’.”
Dylan Mathews & Elana Aquino of Peace Direct shared a joint statement:
We urge all people to remember our shared humanity, so that we don’t fan the flames of conflict. We urge our supporters not to lose hope, and to keep believing that peace is possible, even in these troubling times.
Our experience of working with local peacebuilders in some of the most conflict affected countries has taught us that opportunities for peace emerge in the most unusual places and with the most unlikely of people. These opportunities must be grasped, however hard it might be. We honour all the local peacebuilders in Ukraine who will continue their life saving work, even at great risk to themselves. And we urge world leaders to continue to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis and to never give up on dialogue, even if the violence escalates.
Image credit: Kyiv at dusk. Photo by Oleksandr Zhabin via Unsplash
Good news from DR Congo
Through an emergency project last year, Peace Direct partner Fondation Chirezi (FOCHI) supported hundreds of families. They organised games and distributed food parcels to 206 children forced to live in temporary shelters because of conflict.
Jean is one of the many children supported by FOCHI last year, helped to bridge the divides between different groups. He said, "I had never played with children from other ethnic groups here, but thanks to these games I already know the homes of some of my playmates, we already visit and our parents already know us as friends."
With FOCHI's support, these children can begin healing from the conflict, and build bridges for the future.
A parent shared how their children have benefited from this project. “Yesterday [our children] didn't speak Swahili and had difficulty communicating with local children. But today, thanks to these games, they already speak a little Swahili and are friends with indigenous children.”
Read more on our website: https://www.peacedirect.org/peace-games/
Afgan Solidarity Fund
128 days have passed since the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan.
Recent weeks have seen women and girls banned from education. We're hearing reports that food is becoming increasingly scarce, and that earning a living is now more dangerous than ever.
With more difficult days on the horizon: Our thoughts and unwavering solidarity remain with the people of Afghanistan.
As soon as Kabul fell, we reached out to local groups with offers of support.
We’ve since partnered with a local organisation, Equality for Peace and Democracy (EPD), who are well-regarded and nationally respected. Together, we've developed the Afghanistan Solidarity Fund to help Afghan civil society continue their essential work through this crisis.
EPD is a fantastic grassroots organisation. They focus on empowering women and youth at the community and policy levels across Afghanistan. Their work has never been more urgent.
With our support, EPD is playing a leading role in development, human rights and building peace in Afghanistan.