Photo: (L-R) Dr. Fahia Saeed, Petros Haile, Magn Nyang, Al McFarlane, Obang Metho, Dr. Bereket Habte Sellassie, Dr. Ahmed Samatar, and Seyoum Tesfaye. Photo by Suluki Fardan .
Sponsored by African News Journal, Eritrean Forum in Minnesota, and organized by Confederation of the Somali Community, Eritrean Forum and Gambella Relief Organization, The Horn of Africa Peace Forum examined pathways to peace in the Horn of Africa region and explored ways of empowering the grass roots and civil society so that a lasting peace can be based on understanding and trust. The Forum that won many nicknames before it even began left participants with hope. It has been called an historic conference, never done before. Even coordinators won nicknames: risk takers, visionaries, concerned citizens, dreamers and so on. What matters the most, after all, for organizers and the attendees was accomplishing one objective: bringing these communities together to talk about their common future. “Well, if that was the case, it was accomplished,” said Ahmed Jaber, an Eritrean, former UN employee who came from New York for the meeting. The conference brought together academics, human rights activists and intellectuals in the largest gathering of Horn of Africans ever in Minnesota. The educators, clerics, and statesmen gathered Friday, December 5th at Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs to set the stage for intentional movement toward peace and reconciliation in the Horn of Africa. Saeed Fahia of Somali Confederation, a member of the organizers, read the introduction speech and reminded the audience that for the past 50 years, governments and opposition groups have been brought together without any tangible results. This time, he said, “we want to target and give opportunity to people, use the people power. The purpose of the conference today is to engage the Horn of Africans, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Somalis, Djiboutians and others, to engage peace- making efforts in their respective countries.” “In this region, we have seen all kinds problems --famine, wars, droughts or even genocides and I think it is time for the Horn of Africans to take the matters into our own hands and try to find a last solution for our people. How can we stop the ongoing problems? ..more..Mission: Peace in the Horn of Africa