Burundian sports centre a beacon for peacebuilding, says UN official
Burundian sports centre a beacon for peacebuilding, says UN official
Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfried Lemke
A new youth centre in the border region between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will use the power of sports to bring peace to an area historically fraught with tragedy, the United Nations sports and peace envoy announced today.
Speaking during his visit to the Youth Sport Centre in Gatumba, Burundi, Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, expressed his wish for the project to serve as “a beacon of hope and joy” in a region otherwise known for its cross-border violence and economic difficulties.
“This centre is a neutral and safe place, where the local communities can gather, communicate, learn, have fun and construct a new future for themselves, together,” Mr. Lemke said. “On these new sports grounds, a fresh start is possible.”
This centre is a neutral and safe place, where the local communities can gather, communicate, learn, have fun and construct a new future for themselves, together.
In one instance of inter-ethnic brutality in 2004, a refugee transit centre in Gatumba, just inside Burundi, was attacked by a large group of armed individuals, resulting in the massacre of 152 refugees from Tutsi communities in the DRC and wounding 106 others.
As part of a global initiative by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), the Gatumba multi-sports complex will serve as a social and cultural gathering point for more than 7,000 young men and women from both the DRC and Burundi in an attempt to foster better social cohesion.
The centre will also assist local youth in developing income-generating skills by supporting a variety of educational, training and cultural activities, along with the provision of information technology equipment.
“Today, thousands of commendable projects are mobilizing the transformative power of sport to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of people around the world,” Mr. Lemke declared, citing UNOSDP’s various global efforts to bring peace through sports.
In addition to the Gatumba Youth Centre, UNOSDP is also developing four other sports-related projects across the globe, including ones in the Gaza Strip, Tajikistan, Haiti and Ukraine.
UN-Supported Youth Centre in Burundi Welcomes Special Adviser on Sport
5 December 2011
Bujumbura/Geneva (UNDP/UNOSDP) – As part of his ongoing three‐nation African visit, UN Special Adviser Wilfried Lemke today visited a brand new Youth Sport Centre in Gatumba, Burundi, in the border region with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project is one of the five initiatives selected by the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) as beneficiaries of the one million euro Award received from UEFA in Monaco last year.
In August 2010, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) was honoured with the 2010 Monaco Charity Award by the Union des Associations Européennes de Football (UEFA). The award of one million euro was agreed to be spent funding five Sport for Development and Peace projects touching on five thematic areas (gender, peace, health, education and disability) in five geographical regions. In addition to the Gatumba Youth Center in Burundi (representing ‘Africa’ and the thematic area of ‘Peace’), the other four recipients include:
- a project in the Gaza Strip, designed by the Berlin‐based Office for Psychosocial Issues (OPSI) and supported by the German Foreign Ministry and UNRWA to train coaches and peer leaders to offer socio‐psychological support to school children by using two newly built sports grounds;
- a project by the Tajikistan National Taekwondo Federation, with support from UN WOMEN, which will aim to strengthen the access for girls to sport and aim to promote women’s rights in Tajikistan;
- a project coordinated by the NGO BlazeSport aimed at increasing and enhancing inclusive disability sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities in Haiti;
- and a programme by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Ukraine, which will use the social and educational potential of football to empower disadvantaged youth in the most affected regions of the country.
During the visit, Mr. Lemke expressed his deep satisfaction that the centre can be a beacon of hope and joy in a region historically plagued by violent conflicts, economic difficulties and a severe lack of opportunities. “This centre is a neutral and safe place, where the local communities can gather, communicate, learn, have fun and construct a new future for themselves, together,” he said. “On these new sports grounds, a fresh start is possible.”
The multi‐sports complex will soon provide a social and cultural point of gathering for more than 7,000 young women and men in the commune of Mutimbuzi and at the cross‐borders of Gatumba, and thus promote better social cohesion between Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda youth. The centre will also provide an environment for youth to develop and learn new skills and later on engage in income‐generating activities.
The 174,000 euro grant provided by UNOSDP will support the implementation of the various sporting, educational, training and cultural activities over the next four years, along with the provision of sporting and IT equipment. The project is a unique joint venture carried between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Government of Burundi, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the National Olympic Committee of Burundi.
Partnership is at the very core of the model chosen by UNOSDP for disbursing the funds from the 2010 Monaco Charity Award. The process began late 2010 with the initial invitations going out to around ninety selected UN agencies and NGOs to submit an application. In the end, only five highly deserving projects were selected. “Today, thousands of commendable projects are mobilizing the transformative power of sport to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of people around the world,” Lemke declared. “It has been a real privilege – but also a great responsibility, given the number of strong applications we received – to have the opportunity, through this Award, to support financially five game‐changing projects and partner with like‐minded organizations, including some of our UN sister organizations,” he added.
Burundi – where the Special Adviser is also visiting a project by the International Judo Federation – is the final stop for Mr. Lemke in a five‐day mission which took him to Cape Town, in South Africa, where he notably took part in the 2nd International Sport and Development Conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sport Science and Development (ICESSD) of the University of the Western Cape, and to Nairobi, Kenya, where the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) was celebrating their 25th Anniversary.
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