Violence Continues in Kafanchan
By John Dada, Fantsuam Director
Greg Jones’ note: One of FON’s early donations to Fantsuam was distributed in in the form of micro loans to group of women in Zankan, the village referenced in the following update. They repaid the loans 100%.
In Kafanchan, there has been a scale down of military presence in recent weeks, an indication that the authorities think some normalcy has been restored. But last week, Saturday, there were reports of what appeared to be reprisal killings of women and children worshippers in a village church near Zankan. Then, on Wednesday 09th November, a corpse was found in the stream near the Katsit suburb of Kafanchan; it was suspected to be another victim of ongoing reprisal killings. These are the immediate results of the violence that erupted again in Kafanchan on Wednesday. Before more military could be drafted into the town, businesses that were destroyed in the last crises and were just being renovated by their owners were torched again. A private primary school across the road from the central police station was also destroyed. Some homes along the Kafanchan Main Street that had escaped destruction in the April violence were finally destroyed along with two private hospitals.
The mob-inspired violence took most Kafanchan residents unaware, and some of the people killed were innocent folks who were attacked by rampaging youths. The violence was at its peak at just the time children were closing from school. Many parents temporarily lost contact with their kids as they could not reach the schools to collect the children. Some children had to make their way through long bush paths to reach home.
As I write this, most displaced persons have found shelters in safe areas of the town; many have no idea when it will be safe enough to go back to their homes, nor do they have information on the security of their homes.
A heavy military patrol has reopened all the routes into Kafanchan, and the rampaging mobs have dispersed. A 24- hour curfew was imposed at 6 p.m. on Wednesday 09th November.
By 11 p.m., the Fantsuam Clinic had treated and discharged five gunshot victims and we had secured safe passage for all our staff, both Christians and Muslims. We are receiving requests for food and phone credits and our clinic remains open 24 hours a day for free treatment to all comers. All shops, market stalls and roadside businesses are shut. Kafanchan’s economic recovery has been dealt a further setback, and the preliminary efforts at rebuilding community trust and promote reconciliation and forgiveness are all on hold.
The weakness of leadership at the grassroots levels was glaring in the sectarian violence that has affected Kafanchan. The readiness with which the youths go violent and the inability of local leadership to curb their excesses remain real challenges for future peace in Kafanchan. The lack of intergenerational dialogue and the loss of the traditional respect for elders are issues that need addressing even as measures to address the pervasive youth unemployment, poverty and frustration are designed. The slow pace and lack of transparency of reconciliation efforts since the April riots has not helped matters. Civil society peace-building initiatives are yet to make any significant impact.
The bulk of Kafanchan peasant farmers just want to continue their lives and need an enabling environment to do so. The latest violence has only made the possibility of famine in Kafanchan in the next few months a reality.
AREAS OF INTERVENTION
1. Availability of phone credits
2. Food, clothes, medicines
3. Support for trauma counseling and care
4. Dedicated support for the elderly and people with disabilities affected by the violence
Food distribution in Kafanchan.
1. Training in building a civil society and developing youth leaders in NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION strategies
2. Stocking up grains for famine prevention
3. Support for irrigation farming to supplement rain-fed harvests
4. Development of community-based forums for dialogues
5. Support for a dedicated team to develop, promote, supervise, and coordinate peace-building efforts and timely identification of flashpoints
6. Documentation of all cases of violence, especially gender-specific and non-specific violation of women and children
7. Reactivation of elders’ forums at ward, local government levels, across religions and tribes, and empowerment of these to make them more visible and relevant in maintaining communal peace.
New market coming alive in Kafanchan.