PAX's main partner in Ukraine is going to help train a special dialogue police recently established there.
This comes five years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down above Ukraine: of the 298 people killed, 193 of whom were Dutch citizens. Today there is still no peace in Ukraine. But there are peace dialogues to help people traumatized by the war. The police are also getting involved -- conducting dialogue has recently been added to the police's tool kit.
Dialogue is particularly important for people in the eastern part of Ukraine, where the war is a daily reality. Many of those who live in the non-government controlled areas no longer even feel Ukrainian. The new president Volodymyr Zelensky has promised to re-commit to these people so that they will feel part of Ukraine once again.
In recent years, PAX has worked with partner organization Dignity Space to train peace engineers (see The War is Not Far Away). These are volunteers from all walks of life who receive intensive training in non-violent communication, mediation and crisis negotiations. Some of the 23 peace engineers who have completed the training will now help train new colleagues. The peace engineers help mediate local conflicts: supporting people who want to be heard and help people listen to the other side. Many of these people come from the eastern provinces bordering the war zone. "We also want to include people from non-government-controlled areas," says Dignity Space director Olena Hantsyak, "but it's hard for them to safely cross the line of conflict to travel to Kiev."
There will also be shorter, more flexible training courses for law enforcement and the military, people who have to deal with violence and conflict in the course of their work. For example, the new dialogue police, as well as the Ministry of Defense, have asked Dignity Space to provide training for their personnel.
The peace engineers form a solid foundation for peace. But they are unable to stop the war, or prevent the difficulties caused by the way. That is why PAX and Dignity Space also engage with local and national authorities on initiatives that meet the needs of citizens. "For a lasting solution to the conflict it’s important that people in the conflict area’s concerns and fears are taken seriously and painful themes are discussed with everyone involved," says PAX project leader Cinta Depondt.
The three-year project Dialogue for Conflict Resolution is financially supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.