July 6 2004
Forum Barcelona - Festival for peaceful intercultural exchange.
06/07/2004 - As part of Forum Barcelona 2004, representatives from SOS Children's Villages have been taking part in a conference on the theme "Towards a World without Violence". Forum Barcelona 2004 was opened on 9 May and will play host until 26 September to the broadest array of cultures coming together in different ways.
Exhibitions, conferences, concerts, theatre, circus and dance performances invite an estimated 7 million visitors to become creatively involved in and experiment with the social and cultural conflicts facing our world in the 21st century. The Forum is being organised, with UNESCO patronage, by Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Autonomous Government and the Spanish Government.
The three major areas covered by the Forum are: conditions for peace, cultural diversity and sustainable development. These issues will be discussed and reflected upon in 49 conferences - called "dialogues". Up to 10,000 participants are expected each for the Parliament of the World's Religions, the World Youth Festival and the UN Urban Forum. Prominent speakers, there to share their experiences, include Boutros-Boutros Ghali, Paolo Coelho, Mikhail Gorbachov, José Samarago and Salman Rushdie.
SOS Children's Villages was invited to take part in one of these Dialogues: between 23 and 27 June a conference with the title "Towards a World without Violence" tackled the problem of violence in all its guises. The primary objective was to place a violence-free world in a position of absolute priority for governments, social movements and peoples.
Organised by the International Peace Bureau in Geneva and the Catalan organisation, "Fundacio per la Pau", the Dialogue brought together players from international NGOs and representatives of the UN and local peace organisations, to work out concrete solutions for a world without violence.
George Nyakora, director of the SOS Training Centre in Kenya and former director of the SOS Emergency Relief Programme for child soldiers in Gulu, north Uganda, gave a presentation about SOS Children's Villages' work with children in armed conflict.
The situation in Gulu - described recently by UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy as one of the most serious humanitarian emergencies in the world and a situation of extraordinary violation of the rights of children - can be used to show the principles of SOS Children's Villages' programmes for children in armed conflict. By opening up SOS Children's Villages in crisis areas, together with our extensive network, displaced and refugee children and their families can be helped quickly.
Emergency Relief Programmes like those in Uganda offer these children a first port of call, offering emergency supplies and care. The UNHCR, UNICEF and the WHO are important partners for SOS Children's Villages in doing this. These short-term projects are complemented by long-term measures.
Some 200 former child soldiers in Gulu, whose families cannot be found, are being looked after in the long-term by SOS Children's Villages. Involving and consulting the population and local organisations helps significantly to support local capacity development and therefore contributes to the long-term improvement of the situation.
Barbara Pittracher, from the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Academy, introduced the study, "Seeing beyond violence. Children as researchers" in the form of an exhibition and presentation. SOS Children's Villages Catalonia made a contribution on the theme of "children and violence in the media".
As well as these contributions, all SOS Children's Villages' work serves to support the goals set by Forum Barcelona - creating the conditions for a peaceful world, cherishing cultural diversity and working towards sustainable development.
Liaison & Advocacy Office