Belfast Telegraph

Violence is a major driver of poverty

By Rosamond Bennett

I'll see you again after the next war - unbelievable words from a five-year-old girl to a Christian Aid staff member as he was leaving Gaza last week.

The little girl, standing amid the rubble left behind from the summer's violence, knew already the brutality of cycles of violence.

This week, more than 120 people involved in the frustrating, difficult, but essential task of building peace and helping those whose lives have been splintered by violence across the world have been gathering in Belfast to share experiences, listen to frustrations and learn from each other.

Christian Aid Ireland and the Transitional Justice Institute at the Ulster University are co-hosting a conference which has brought representatives of organisations from Sierra Leone, Israel/Palestine, Myanmar, Pakistan, Colombia, Angola and other conflict-affected regions across the world to Northern Ireland.

The conference - Civil Society, Conflict Transformation and Peace-building - has been examining the impact of violence on poverty, strategies for dealing with the past and the impact of conflict on men, women and children.

The event features speakers who have worked at the coalface of conflict transformation and peace-building, often under personally trying circumstances.

So why bring all these people here? And what does Christian Aid hope to achieve?

Christian Aid works globally for profound change that eradicates the causes of poverty, striving to achieve equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality.

We work entirely through local organisations. These organisations work actively to tackle violence and transform conflict. This is quite simply essential work.

Violence is a major driver of poverty globally, bringing with it devastation, powerlessness and chaos. Millions of people are imprisoned in poverty by conflict, violence, or the threat of violence. It is always disastrous to development. This event is both timely and relevant and clearly demonstrates that this issue deserves more attention than it has received to date. As a post-conflict region, Northern Ireland is a great place to host this significant event.

Rosamond Bennett is chief executive of Christian Aid

Belfast Telegraph

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