GENEVA, Switzerland, June 19, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 13 June 2015, IOM handed over six rehabilitated classrooms at the Lycee Moderne de Bouar in western Central African Republic (CAR). The Regional Governor of Nana-Mambéré Province presided over the ceremony that brought together local government leaders, UN agencies, NGOs, community leaders, local media and residents.
This project is one among 14 community infrastructure rehabilitation initiatives undertaken by IOM in eight locations across CAR under a UN Peacebuilding Support Office-funded programme assisting the relocation and reinsertion of former combatants from cantonment sites in Bangui to their communities of origin or choice. Working with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and CAR’s Ministry of Economy Planning, and International Cooperation, the programme aims to contribute to improved security in the capital of Bangui and provide alternates to former combatants.
The selection of the projects – including schools, bridges, and local government offices – follows a consultation process involving local government and community leaders.
“These rehabilitated classrooms are a significant improvement for our community,” said Ali Ahoudou-Moumini, the Mayor of Bouar, “and a much-needed improvement for the students of Lycee Moderne.”
The projects provide short-term employment and an initial income for former combatants and other vulnerable community members. In addition to generating short-term employment for the former combatants and community members, the project contributes to the rehabilitation of basic community infrastructure, much of it in disrepair.
The handover was timely in view of the recent Bangui Forum, which resulted in a new disarmament agreement among former opposing groups and factions of the Séléka, anti-Balaka and other groups. In addition, the forum set out priorities for elections and social and economic development.
Promoting social cohesion among former combatants and community members has been an integral objective of the program, therefore, working together at the rehabilitation sites encourages progress in achieving lasting peace and reconciliation.
The 2013 crisis in CAR resulted in violence, insecurity, widespread displacement, and exacerbated conditions of poverty. IOM is contributing to the peace process in the country by providing alternatives to former combatants and other vulnerable community members by supporting their engagement in rebuilding their communities. This contributes toward the normalization of living conditions and inter-communal reconciliation, thereby also improving the conditions for sustainable return of the country’s 900,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.