Peace-building operation of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), also known as the Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, is a Swiss NGO that has been working since 1999 to prevent and resolve armed conflicts around the world through mediation and discreet diplomacy. “Communities in the Ouallam department of south-western Niger have signed a peace agreement to end a long-running conflict in the Tillabéri region that has killed around 100 people, displaced more than 10,000 and disrupted agro-pastoral activities,” HD said. “The new agreement follows another signed on 21 January by communities in Banibangou, 150km northeast of Ouallam, which quickly allowed free movement, return of displaced people and resumption of economic activities”.

The peace-building operation of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, which is active in more than 80% of the conflicts in the world, brings all the parties together to find the way to peace. In the communities of the Ouallam department, the Peace-building operation of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue intervened at the request of the parties. The aim was to “pull communities out of a spiral of violence fuelled by climate change, competition for scarce resources and general insecurity in the Sahel region”, the organisation explains.

The Oullam department covers the historic region of the Zarmaganda plateau and is one of the traditional homelands of the Djerma people, who live there with semi-nomadic Tuareg communities. “The signing of this peace agreement will bring relief to our communities, which have been particularly affected by the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict,” said HD Hama Hassane, Canton Chief of Tondikiwindi. “We are already seeing the benefits of the mediation process. Displaced people,” Hassane continues, “are gradually returning and our communities are reaching agreement on sharing certain natural resources.

Tillabéri has been caught up in a conflict between armed groups and the Niger army. More than 120,000 people have been displaced. Large-scale cattle rustling, the burning of houses and granaries, and attacks on schools and health centres have exacerbated the vulnerability of people in the area. “The agreement provides for a monitoring committee made up of representatives of the various communities to ensure its implementation, to work on the return of the displaced and to deal with disputes between the parties,” he explained to the Swiss NGO.

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* On the cover photo, Grayscaled map with lakes and rivers of Tillabéry, department of Niger © Yarr65/