Nearly two months after the tragic conclusion of the Beslan school siege, efforts are being made through peace building and conflict resolution projects to bring together the communities of the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia to develop mutual respect and understanding.
“The World Vision team has traveled extensively around Ossetia and it is painfully evident that this is the right time to implement peace building projects”, adds Jitka Kubinova, Operations Manager for World Vision in the Russian Federation.
Recently, World Vision Russian Federation received a $50,000 grant from USAID to implement a peace-building and conflict resolution project in response to mounting ethnically driven tension in the North Caucasus since the Beslan school hostage crisis.
Although the Russian government and the international community have responded admirably to the immediate relief needs of the victims, the ethnically diverse area is once again precariously close to a larger conflict.
According to a report released by World Vision, talk already abounds within the region that Ossetians will try to exact revenge against their Ingush and Chechen neighbors for what they perceive to be the Ingush and Chechen involvement in the Beslan crisis.
An increase in the number of federal troops manning both republics reflects the growing concern that the North Caucasus could slip into a large-scale conflict, the agency reported.
Particularly since Beslan, there has been little communication between the three republics. Border points have been closed and even now that they are officially open, few Chechen and Ingush travel to North Ossetia for fear of ethnic retribution. For such close geographic neighbors to be so isolated from each other bodes ill for a future promising peace and stability.
World Vision’s peace building and conflict resolution project will bring together children, parents and teachers from the communities of the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia with the aim to develop mutual respect and understanding - not only of their differences, but of their similarities.
Skilled trainers will be invited to train local staff from the North Caucasus in peace building, conflict resolution and awareness of Local Capacities for Peace. Local staff will then facilitate two workshops – one aimed at students selected from the three republics and a second workshop for teachers and parents from the same communities.
Workshops will encourage participants to explore each others’ history and culture, to identify dividers and connectors based on the established Local Capacities for Peace Framework and then seek to increase those connectors that bring the three groups closer together.
“Ideal future planning” will give participants the opportunity to explore what they wish to see in the years to come and identify roles they can play in promoting that ideal future.
For the children, social activities designed to foster friendships and closer understanding will be implemented, such as sports, drama presentations and games that promote interaction among the three groups.
Three trainers representing each of the republics will be trained in peace building and conflict resolution. These trainers will co-facilitate two workshops consisting of approximately 30 participants (ten from each republic).
At the culmination of the workshops, 3,000 copies of a project newsletter will be printed and distributed among the larger school communities in Chechnya, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.