Religious leaders and other peace actors are convening in Lodwar for an international peace conference that kicked off on Tuesday.
The 6th inter – Diocesan conference on peace and evangelisation whose theme is ‘Reflections on peaceful disarmament’ was opened by Lodwar Catholic Diocese, Bishop Dominic Kimengich.
The conference brings together peace actors from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Speaking when he presided over the opening ceremony in Lodwar, Bishop Kimengich said the region has been experiencing conflicts that have claimed many lives.
“We are here to think together, reflect together, go through together ways and means through which we can become peace makers and reconcilers so that there is peace in the region where we live,” he said.
He said the church has a challenge of spreading love saying it is the only power that can transform the lives of people.
The issue of illegal firearms which has been blamed for fanning the conflict was also discussed extensively.
Most participants held the view that disarmament can only succeed if it is peaceful.
“We need to engage the communities so that they can accept to be disarmed peacefully because forceful disarmament cannot succeed,” said one participant.
The government has been raising the issue of disarmament for a number of years now but it has never been undertaken.
Major E. Byahanga from Uganda People’s Defence Forces said disarmament is a process that requires the engagement of the communities before they can embrace it.
“It is possible to disarm people physically and not disarm they minds,” he said.
He lauded the church for hosting the event but called on all participants to spread the message to the villages.
“We can only succeed in our disarmament if the message being shared in this conference will reach the communities on the ground, otherwise we shall be failing,” said Major Byahanga.
The conference which ends on May 17 will see the participants come up with resolutions and recommendations, including how best to undertake disarmament.
By Peter Gitonga