Sitting around a cup of bunna (traditional Ethiopian coffee), Abdi and other community leaders peacefully discuss the struggles of life in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia.
Abdi* is 55 years old and originally from Somalia. Frequent droughts made Abdi’s pastoral life extremely challenging, but it was the threat of Al-Shabaab that triggered his decision to flee his country. Because of his role of community leader, Abdi was personally threatened by the terrorist group: “They took me one day to the river and asked me to gather some cattle from my people to give it to them. When I refused to do so, they threatened to kill me.” After being threatened by the group again two days later, he had no other choice than escape and cross the border to Ethiopia.
In Dollo Ado, many Somali clans live together in challenging conditions. As in any other community, tensions often arise and community leaders like Abdi play a vital role in resolving conflicts before they spiral out of control.
Since 2019, JRS reconciliation project has been promoting closer collaboration between community leaders from refugee and host communities by facilitating regular encounters, encouraging dialogue, and accompanying clan leaders in resolving disputes. “Before, if there was a conflict inside my clan, I was the only one to suffer to solve it. Now, I call my friends from the host and refugee communities, and we sit together to look for a possible solution,” said a Clan Leader. Another takeaway was learning to identify underlying causes of conflict: “We shouldn’t rush to resolve disagreements but instead give both parties time to explain themselves and listen before reaching conclusions.”
Reconciliation and conflict-resolution initiatives are essential to ensure a peaceful future. Life in Dollo Ado is not easy, but at least there is peace. “We have been able to solve many potential conflicts with the use of dialogue,” says Abdi.
*name of fantasy to protect the identity of the person