The findings and recommendations of this research Understanding divisive narratives – media analysis will be used to guide a number of Media Consultation Dialogues (MCD), which will engage media professionals from a variety of backgrounds in order to discuss ways and means of ensuring that divisive narratives become less prominent in mainstream discourse.
This research has been commissioned in the framework of a two and a half year project ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’; funded from the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).
In Kosovo, the measures taken by governing authorities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 has mirrored other governments across Europe. However, ensuring such measures don’t negatively impact Kosovo’s non-majority communities has further tested the government’s capacity.
Peaceful Change initiative’s project ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’ (supported by the UK Government’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund) has worked through their partner NGO Aktiv, working in Kosovo and Serbia, to establish a Rapid Civic Response Group.
The Group is made up of 22 civil and community activists from across Kosovo representing the Serbian, Albanian, and Gorani communities. It is creating vital channels for the real-time flow of information, thereby facilitating the identification of problems which may otherwise have remained ignored. They include:
Poor information dissemination in non-majority languages
Poor and/or lack of translation in non-majority languages
An increase in security incidents in Serbian communities
Challenges accessing economic-aid
Inadequate and/or lack of institutional response
Aktiv and the Rapid Civic Response Group have taken steps to lobby the Kosovo government and other relevant actors for urgent steps to address these problems. Their approach includes:
Request to improve communication with non-majority communities addressed to the Government of Kosovo
COVID-19 is highlighting vulnerabilities among marginalised communities around the world. In Georgia, Abkhazia remote communities, situated far away from urban centres have learned to cope with their isolation, even though they face additional challenges when situated adjacent to conflict-affected areas. The introduction of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 have stretched livelihoods and coping mechanisms to breaking point. For example, travel restrictions have led to a shortage of essential goods and the lack of water supply has made it difficult to maintain good hand hygiene; in addition, the distance from decision making is challenging the effectiveness of public health mechanisms. Peaceful Change initiative and their partners have been supporting schools in isolated communities in this region to deal with these challenges, filling gaps in COVID-preparedness and supporting local groups to organise and meet the challenges of the pandemic.
PCi is mentioned in an article by Nate Wilson, ‘Coronavirus Shows Why Libya Needs to Build its Institutions’, published on 14 April 2020 for the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). The article highlights that institutional support to improve the Libya COVID-19 response must take into account conflict dynamics at a regional, sub-regional and even community level. USIP advocates for organisations working in Libya to use their analysis, as well as analysis from PCi, Mercy Corps, Danish Refugee Council and others, “to inform their decisions, then they can use aid to connect groups in conflict, ensure that it is inclusive, and thereby maximize benefits. This will surely benefit Libya beyond the immediate crisis.”
PCi urges “those with the ability to stop the suffering” in conflict-affected areas to take action now and ensure unimpeded and sustained access for organisations delivering aid and medical supplies in response to COVID-19.
PCi provides conflict sensitivity advice to embassies, donor agencies, UN agencies, international NGOs and research organisations. PCi is currently the Coordinator of the Conflict Sensitivity Community Hub (until September 2020).
Under the coordination of Peaceful Change initiative, the Conflict Sensitivity Community Hub has addressed policy and decision makers in an open letter sharing key recommendations on how governments, donors, UN and NGOs can deliver international aid in a conflict-sensitive way in the context of COVID-19. Along with tangible advice on best practice, the Conflict Sensitivity Community encourages decision makers to ensure that adjustments to the situation prioritise analysis and communication, local adaptation and the promotion of peace. Please read the full letter here.
In its role as the CSC Hub coordinator, PCi currently facilitates a range of exchanges between NGOs to commonly reflect on conflict-sensitive responses to COVID-19.
Peaceful Change initiative works to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. We worked with our partners Aktiv, Civic Initiatives and Peer Educators Network to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo are better aware of – and able to advocate for – municipal services to which they are entitled.
In response to COVID-19, PCi worked with Aktiv to create a ‘Rapid Response Crisis Group’ (RRCG) to ensure that non-majority communities in Kosovo were receiving equitable access to information that sought to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Peaceful Change initiative are working with partners, among others, to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo have better access to information on COVID-19. The goal of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project is to strengthen the capacity of citizens in Kosovo and Serbia to advocate for an effective and equitable distribution of public services and for a greater inclusion of non-majority communities in local decision making.
The project is funded by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the United Kingdom (CSSF) and implemented by a network of five organisations, including our partner Peer Educators Network (PEN) from Kosovo, who actively work to bring social change through community work led by youth. With their first video-cast published as part of ALVED, PEN is providing information about the effects of the pandemic on mental health, as well as some advice on how to cope with this situation. The video is available in English, Albanian and Serbian language, and was shared through social media by a network of organisations working with diverse groups in Kosovo, including non-majority communities.