SOS takes an active interest in the situation in various countries. In the Peace Manifesto “Let All The Children Play: Invest in Peace”, Peace SOS and other peace organizations focused attention on: Syria, Yemen, the relation between western countries and the Russian Federation, Israel-Palestine and Iran.
We are aware that there are more important violent conflicts in the world today. We are open to working with local partners on these other violent conflicts in the world or preventing violent conflict from occurring.
For the last year now, Burundi has been on the brink of war. Some 800-900 people have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled the country. The displaced are spread across Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in camps that are desperately overcrowded and short of food. Burundian Women for Peace and Development receives messages from Burundian people every day, pleading with it to prevent war breaking out. See the blog about our talk with Jean Minani, president of Burundi’s CNARED. CNARED represents 22 political opposition parties in Burundi, including ex-presidents of Burundi.
In 2017, in collaboration with other international peace organizations, Peace SOS took the initiative, to write a letter to the president of the East African Community to demand the participation of women and youth in the peace negotiations about Burundi. This demand was granted. Burundian Women for Peace and Development and Peace SOS suggested to the United Nations that they organize a conference with women from all stakeholder groups: NGOs, political parties, religions. UN Women organized this conference. But the threat of a civil war still present.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century. Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have not yet reached a final peace agreement. The key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, and Palestinian right of return.
In 2017 in Tel Aviv, Peace SOS participated in public peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The negotiations were organized by Minds of Peace. It was wonderful to see how different people – raised as “enemies” – did their very best to come closer and come up with solutions for peace. They pleaded for eating humus together and peace education, and discussed various political solutions, including a two-state solution.
Mahmoud Qudemat is peace ambassador for Peace SOS in Hebron, West Bank. We believe that soft powers and initiatives like Women Wage Peace deserve to be reinforced.
The Malian government and the Tuareg rebels reached a peace agreement in Algeria in which the northern Tuaregs achieved limited self-governance. The violence never ended completely, however. Half of the Malian population live below the poverty line. Access to education is restricted and 39 per cent of the adults are illiterate. A high youth unemployment rate and a lack of perspective are other causes of instability. Research by SIPRI and the “National Coalition of Civil Society for Peace and the Fight Against the Proliferation of Light Weapons” (CONASCIPAL) shows that unemployment and poverty are perceived as the most important problems of the country.
Peace One Day Mali is a movement led by young people, and one of their aims is to train women as mediators in conflicts. Oxfam Mali monitors the project and Peace SOS supports it. We consider it important to reinforce the soft powers in Mali.
The United Nations is present in Mali with the UN mission MINUSMA. This mission has been extended to June 30th, 2018.
A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Syria. The war started in 2011. More than 400,000 people have been killed, a million injured and ten million people have fled the country. At the end of 2017, Eastern Ghouta is still under siege. Eastern Ghouta is an area east of Damascus with 400,000 civilians, including 95,000 children. According to WHO representative Elizabet Hoff, malnutrition rates are the highest seen so far in Syria since the beginning of the crisis. Surveys indicated that some 12 percent of the children have global acute malnutrition. In addition, the bombings continue. The international community is divided about the political solution for Syria. The west supports opposition parties who strive for democracy, while Russia and Iran support president Assad and fear that Syria will fall apart if his regime falls.
Peace SOS stresses the need for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid for all Syrians and a diplomatic solution for the war in Syria. Therefore, it is vital that the United States and Russia cooperate. We have written an op-ed about this topic in a Dutch newspaper.
On December 17th, 2015, in collaboration with three other peace organizations, Peace SOS published an article in that same newspaper “Stop air bombardments in Syria”. The article is a call to stop the bombardments in Syria and advises the Netherlands not to participate in the bombardments on ISIS in Syria.
In March 2015, Peace SOS supported peace organization Planet Syria in response to their campaign “Earth is anybody out there?”. The Dutch national radio was present.
Violence during the demonstrations against the government of Maduro led to 100 deaths and thousands of injured. The humanitarian situation is appalling and the inflation high. There is hunger and a shortage of medicines. According to the Organization of American States, between four and six people die every week as a result of malnutrition.
The Foundation Multicultural Viva Venezuela and Peace SOS wrote an op-ed in a large national Dutch newspaper “Neighbor country Netherlands should help Venezuela”. Via Foundation Multicultural Viva Venezuela – which cooperates with a national organization for medical staff in Venezuela – Peace SOS donates money for supplements for children with malnutrition in Venezuela. To give you an indication. For 10 euros 1 kilo of supplements can be paid.