Peacebuilding in Central African Republic - KAICIID, Experts, Religious Leaders Discuss Engagement

Wien (OTS) - The King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue today convened a two-day meeting of experts and religious representatives from the Central African Republic to discuss the facilitation of peacebuilding processes in the conflict-torn country.

Wisdom of Religious Leaders

KAICIID Secretary General Faisal Bin Muaammar opened the meeting, offering the services of the Dialogue Centre and its expertise to support possible ways to advance resolutions to the unfolding crisis in CAR: "From the moment we began to explore options for a dialogical intervention, it was important for us to engage Central African experts and religious leaders in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis. The experts and religious leaders who have travelled to Vienna for these crucial discussions have shown real courage, compassion and commitment to finding peace. We at KAICIID share that commitment. And we are convinced that within the wisdom of religious people lies the knowledge to help the citizens of the Central African Republic overcome this crisis and build for themselves a bright future."

"This is not a political conflict, but a profoundly political one."

The participants agreed that the conflict in CAR was not a religious conflict, but one rooted in historical, political, and economic concerns. Participants also warned that without immediate action to promote interreligious dialogue and alleviate the growing humanitarian and security crisis in the country, there was a significant risk of the country fracturing along religious lines, and the eventual disintegration of the country. The risk of a wider conflict beyond CAR's borders was evident and must be prevented.

The participants highlighted a number of aspects of the crisis, including poverty and a growing food crisis, which has been exacerbated by the conflict.

The effects of the conflict are horrifying. A Central African participant said that there had never been such a high level of insecurity in the country. Daily killings and bombardment continue in Bangui. The conflict, and fear, are spreading north through the country. In a population for 4.5 million, there are 600,000 internally displaced people, of which 160,000 are seeking shelter in Bangui, a further 360,000 have fled to the neighboring countries. The security threat to Muslim communities is particularly acute, as Muslim populations are being forced to leave their homes and the country.

Recommendations

The participants from the Central African Republic described the difficulty of working on peacebuilding programmes under the current conditions, but emphasized their commitment to continue their efforts.The meeting developed recommendations for consideration in KAICIID's work to build dialogue in the country, these included a call to

a. Work towards using dialogue to end hostilities in the Central African Republic and support efforts for reconciliation; b. Correct the myth that the conflict is affiliated with religion or that conflict occurred as a result of religion; c. Promote sustainable interreligious dialogue at the grassroots level in the Central African Republic; d. Support peacebuilding with other international and national organisations to help prevent the situation's further deterioration; e. Work with the local and international organisations now active in the Central African Republic to create synergy in providing effective support;

Following this initial meeting, the KAICIID Dialogue Centre will sustain and expand cooperation with the participants and their stakeholders, as well as engaging organizations that work in the Central African Republic to develop effective collaboration action.

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