Sadly I have just received this updated report from John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation (ten minutes ago). Earlier today John had alerted us to the trouble flaring up again in Kafanchan.
The photo shows the old Kafanchan Market which was burnt down during the previous violence in April.
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 killing of women and children worshippers in a village church
near Zonkwa. 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 reprisal killing. These are the immediate causes 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 oaths to reach home. As at this morning, most displaced persons have found shelters in safe areas of the town; many have no idea when it may be safe 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 from 6pm on Wednesday 09th November.
By 11.00pm, the Fantsuam clinic had treated and discharged 5 gun shot
victims and we had secured safe passage for all our staff, both christians
and moslems. We are receiving requests for food and phone credits and our clinic remains opened 24hours 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 grassroot levels was glaring in the
various 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 if
only an enabling environment will be fostered. The latest violence has
only made the possibility of famine in Kafanchan in the next few months, a reality.
AREAS OF INTERVENTION ( as identified by John Dada and Fantsuam Foundation)
1. Availability of phone credits
2. Food, clothes, medicines
3. Support for Trauma Counselling and Care
4. Dedicated support for the elderly and people with disabilities affected
by the violence
1. Capacity building of civil society groups, youth leaders in NON-VIOLENT
2. Stocking up grains for famine prevention
3. Support for irrigation farming to supplement rain-fed harvests
4. Development of Community-based fora for dialogues
5. Support for a dedicated team to develop, promote, supervise, 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 forum at Ward, Local Government levels, across
religions and tribes, and empowerment of these fora to make them more
visible and relevant in maintaining communal peace