IFAIR as Input Giver at a Seminar about “War and Peace”
On the May 8th, 2019 IFAIR’s Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Katharina Lange, was invited to give a talk at a seminar hosted by Akademie Frankenwarte in Würzburg, Germany. Within the seminar’s overall context of “War and Peace – How secure is the world?”, the participants had the chance to analyze and discuss security challenges and perspectives of the 21stcentury.
Katharina Lange held her presentation about “Current conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa”. After giving a broad overview about the region of Sub-Saharan Africa and some of its peculiarities, she talked about resource conflicts, border conflicts and religious conflicts – all of which have a special role to play within this region.
After a short video introducing the topic of child soldiers, the participants of the seminar were given the opportunity to discuss this sensitive issue among themselves. Currently, around 250,000 children are engaged as soldiers in a violent conflict, of which a lot are situated in Sub-Saharan Africa. The awareness for the dire situation of child soldiers is fading, hence the discussion on the topic was more than vital.
Thereafter, the presentation comprised two focus conflicts in more detail. Firstly, the participants gained an insight into the violent riots between the anglophone and the francophone parts of the population in Cameroon. What had initially started as a peaceful demonstration in order to receive some respect for the anglophone culture and language in 2016, has escalated quickly. But this is not the only conflict the country has to face at the moment. A huge threat keeps coming from the terrorist organization Boko Haram whose suicide bombings have already crossed into Cameroon from its neighboring country Nigeria. Secondly, the presentation dealt with the current crisis in Zimbabwe. After a hyperinflation in 2008, the country’s economic as well as political situation stagnates leading to protests of the disappointed and malnourished population. In January 2019, the violence of the protests opposing the military intensified up to a shutdown of the internet lasting several days, in particular in the capital city Harare.
The seminar has been a very interesting and unique experience – for IFAIR, but especially for Katharina Lange herself. We are thankful for the invitation and are looking forward to further seminars in the future where we can provide input from the perspective of young initiators about foreign affairs and international relations.