A rare reconciliation: Ending a long conflict between two Somali clans


Source: Trust.org
Author: Ulla Kärki / Finn Church Aid

In a unique process, Finn Church Aid facilitated a resolution of 20 years’ violent conflict between two clans in Somalia.

“For twenty years, I have not slept in my home. I had different hiding holes and trees around my home and slept in these places randomly, afraid of revenge killing by other clan whose members I had killed. I have not slept well during these twenty years and even the food was tasteless. One night, I heard something and thought someone was hiding to shoot me, hurried to attack but accidentally discharged my gun and my 16 year old son died on the spot. Since the first day when we forgave each other I started sleeping very long. I think I am reborn again. My plan is to strive for peace from now on. I don’t think anyone understands the meaning of peace better than I do.” (Remarks of one of the perpetrators)

I believe that 99,9 per cent of the people on this planet want peace. The challenge lies in how to make peace happen.

Finn Church Aid facilitated an end in a violent conflict between two clans in the northern Sanaag region in Somalia. The resolution has an impact on about 3000 people directly and about 40 000 indirectly.

The peace negotiations were carried out in June. Although conflict resolution meetings in Somalia usually take place between traditional elders, this time also the perpetrators as well as those who were wounded and whose fathers, brothers and uncles had been killed were present.

“The way this reconciliation was achieved is unprecedented in style, nature and genuinity,” says Jama Egal, program manager at Finn Church Aid Somalia Office.

Finn Church Aid planned the process and its Somalian partner organization Adeso carried it out.

The case turned out not only conflict resolution but a complete reconciliation package. After the two-day negotiations, the groups agreed to reconcile and also formed a joint peace and development committee.

The process made the headlines. It became the story of the Erigavo town and was broadcasted through most of Somali news outlets including the BBC Somali section. After a closing ceremony, both parties travelled back to their area together.

“Without FCA facilitation and support, this peace would not have been reached. People would have continued to suffer from cycle of revenge killings. There are cases that need similar support all over Somalia”, Jama Egal says.

Finn Church Aid specializes in the right to peace, and supports peace work in local communities.

Initially, the violence between the clans started over twenty years ago, when a divorced woman intended to remarry in 1991. Both her ex-husband and a man from another clan wanted to marry her. The dispute evolved to violent conflict when the latter shot and injured three men. A cycle of revenge killings started, resulting in three killings and six wounded. After that, every male of the two clans carried a gun and hunted each other.