STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria empowers Youth Peace Champions and community members to engage in intergenerational dialogue for peace

Since the emergence of Boko Haram and its affiliates in Nigeria, millions of people have been displaced and thousands of vulnerable children exposed to recruitment and victimization. This amounts to a massive humanitarian and developmental crisis in the North East region, especially in Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency. However, even while families have been torn apart, livelihoods put on hold and peace destabilized, we have seen the power of resilience and concerted efforts from stakeholders to restore peace and reignite hope. 


It is crucial that these efforts directly involve those who have been significantly affected by the ruinous activities of terrorist and violent extremist groups. Communities must be at the heart of designing interventions and driving positive change. A whole-of-society approach that prioritizes locally-built solutions is essential to peacebuilding.  


Between 28 and 31 August 2023, STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria - as part of its awareness raising campaign “#SeeTheChild” – brought together a range of stakeholders from Jere and Maiduguri Metropolitan council (MMC) Local Government Areas of Borno State. Religious leaders, women leaders, teachers, traditional leaders, opinion leaders and STRIVE Juvenile Youth Peace Champions (YPCs) took part in a training workshop on low-level conflict mediation and treatment of children associated with terrorist groups. This activity built on the results of the recent training of Youth Peace Champions (YPCs) on the use of social media, art and animation for peacebuilding.  


During the 4-day workshop, stakeholders participated in interactive and in-depth sessions that focused on trust building, effective dialogue and mediation, stakeholder engagement, effective reconciliation, and mediation with a view to addressing low-level conflicts and promoting peace. “As a community leader, I learnt a lot on mediation and its processes. The knowledge will improve how I mediate on conflicts in my community and help foster peace among my people”- Jidda Abu M., community leader from Jere LGA.  


The workshop resulted in three Community Dialogue Structures (CDS) being set up by the participants. The CDSs bring together YPCs and community leaders to form intergenerational collaborations in the prevention of and response to violence against children. Participants familiarized themselves with the UNODC approach to the treatment of children associated with terrorist groups as exemplified by the Nigeria Call for Action which recognizes that these children should be considered and treated “primarily as victims”.     


Reflecting on the impact of the training, Janada G., Youth Peace Champion, stated: “Viewing the world from the perspective of the child always gives a sense of hope, respect and love towards humanity; then, peace prevails.”  


Fati M., Teacher at Jere, added: “I love the inclusivity of this training. This is the first time I am attending a training that brings together community leaders, opinion leaders, women leaders, religious leaders, traditional rulers, government agencies and youth in one place to discuss issues on conflicts and peacebuilding.” 


In addition, Elizabeth K., Youth Peace Champion highlighted: “I am beginning to see vulnerable children that have been exposed to violence from a different perspective. Every child deserves to be seen, heard and accepted.” 


STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in three partner countries- Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria. STRIVE Juvenile works with children and youth; and develops and implements comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law. As such STRIVE forms integral part of UNODC’s 2030 Strategic Vision for Nigeria and its objective of promoting initiatives to support the victims of terrorism, in particular women and children recruited and exploited by terrorist organizations.