By Chimezie Godfrey
The Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) says it is working with the community, CSO platforms and the government of Nigeria at the state and national levels to protect civilians and mitigate civilian harm across the country.
The Country Director, CIVIC, Dr Benson Olugbuo disclosed this to Journalists during a Photo Exhibition in commemoratation of the World Peace Day, with the theme,” Through the lens, Working Together to Protect Civilians and Mitigate Civilian Harm.”
Olugbuo explained that the exhibition seeks to showcase contextual realities on ground as it affects civilians, community militias, government security forces in the deep fields, with special emphasis on Banki community in Bama LGA, and Monguno LGA of Borno State respectively.
Speaking about the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) activities funded by the European Union (EU), he said the overall goal of the project is to improve protection results through civilian, government of Nigeria and community militia actions.
According to him, this goal can be achieved through increasing government’s commitment to protect civilians by supporting civil society platforms to perform accountability and oversight role of government efforts to advance key POC policies and programs, serve as an implementation support body to ensure elements of the government’s policies and programs are informed by experts, adding that in balancing these two elements, the government of Nigeria will be able to better protect civilians.
Also, he said by enhancing government security forces’s and community militias’ capabilities to better protect civilians, through trainings and practical exercises, rules of engagement, and dialogue mechanisms that will increase the opportunity for civilians to do with security forces a need which is increasingly important because security forces in most localities are essentially the de facto government given the relative absence of the state, local, and traditional authorities.
Olugbuo also said that it can be done through improving civilians responses to protection threats, through equipping communities with in-kind support that will support the operationalization of the their own protection, empowering communities to advocate on important protection needs through established community protection committees and state and non-state security providers, support the sharing of lessons learned between communities in the northeast, and support community efforts to bolster resilience through trauma awareness and skills-building work where such gaps exist at the local level.”
He therefore stressed that to achieve these CIVIC worked with the community, CSO platforms and the government of Nigeria at the state and national levels.
He said,”To achieve these CIVIC worked with the community, CSO platforms and the Government of Nigeria at the state and national levels to;
“Training CSOs and the community on development of advocacy strategies, engagement as well as messaging to key stakeholders, while supporting their advocacy engagement around POC policy, GON Strategies and Programs that support civilian protection and civilian harm mitigation.
“Stakeholders mapping, leverage on key actors for identification and engagement of POC champions for higher levels advocacy on POC.
“Expanding CSO platforms to engage and advocate on protection of civilians with the government. Delivering institutional, Pre-deployment as well as facilitating of Training-of-Trainers for military instructors, military instructions, training/deployment centers.
“Facilitating POC/CHM trainings for deployed troops in the North-East operations. Organizing lessons learned exchanges in the Nigeria and in the Lake Chad Region for senior officers and community protection committees.
“Facilitating radio programs where civilians and security forces share protection related information with the larger community. Facilitating trainings for community militias on POC and CHM.
“Convening Civilian-Military, Civil-Militia, Militia-Militia Dialogues as well as town hall meetings on security and protection issues for better coordination, cooperation and community driven solutions.”
The Photo Journalist, Damilola Onafuwa revealed that he actually went to these communities in Borno State, to take the photographs.
He said the aim is to create consciousness about social issues and bring the realities of the troubled areas to those who could not afford to physically witness the devastations out there.