Earlier today National Public Radio posted an interesting article (here) about the most recent clashes in central Nigeria. In particular, they mentioned that the Nigerian Red Cross has adopted an interesting approach to community health. As a result of the violence, the local Red Cross Chapter has combined Standard First Aid programs with peace and conflict resolution training. Since local residents are becoming increasingly motivated to avoid further bloodshed, Red Cross volunteers and staff have actually designed and implemented a program that attempts to diffuse potentially violent situations. While they are training community members to respond to some of the physical injuries that have taken place, the Nigerian Red Cross is also equipping citizens with the knowledge and ability to stem the surge of killings that have occurred over the past few months. Local coordinators like Manase Panpe are teaching residents about conflict transformation and open community dialogue as alternatives to violence. His strategy focuses on those most likely to be involved in the clashes:
“The targeted beneficiaries are perpetrators, inciters and victims of violent conflicts. You have the power to transform a potential conflict to a peaceful one.”
Chicago area residents who have an interest in this sort of community justice might enjoy taking the free International Humanitarian Law class offered by the American Red Cross. In addition to tackling tough issues like genocide and ethnic violence, the IHL program investigates the roll of the individual in mitigating conflict. Click here if you’re interested in participating!