Sport Activity for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building
Dili – More than 400 local athletes and spectators from Rai-Nain in the Bairo-Pite suco, Dili, gathered on the local football court today for the closing ceremonies of the Game for Peace, a community event intended to encourage peace and unity. The month-long competition was sponsored by the Department of Peace Building and Social Cohesion (DPBSC) of the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS) as part of its ongoing efforts to maintain peace in the once troubled aldeia. (Lee verasun Tetum iha ne'e)
During the unrest of 2006, Rai-Nain was the site of conflict between people from the eastern and western parts of the country, with many members of the community becoming internally displaced (IDPs). Most of the IDPs were people from the east. Those from the west tended to stay in Rai-Nain, some of them occupying the houses abandoned by the IDPs. When peace was restored to the country, many in the community did not want to accept the returning IDPs. Mediation, community dialogue, and a Tarabandu, a traditional Timorese conflict resolution mechanism, were conducted by the dialogue team from Ministry of Social Solidarity in 2010 to settle the disputes.
DPBSC’s support for the Game of Peace is part of its ongoing efforts to prevent conflict and build peace in the aldeia by increasing the interaction and improving relations between community members, especially youth, through sport and other joint activities. The United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) has been working with the Timorese Government to strengthen its ability to prevent conflict and build peace throughout the country and is a sponsor of the DPBSC.
The closing ceremony was attended by Emelda Romana Dalia Belo, the Chief of Unit of Community Stabilization Activity of the DPBSC; Miguel Soares, National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) Sub-District Commander; Carlos Marques Ribeiro, the Chief of Rai-Nain sub-village; Francisco de Jesus Amado, Community Elder Lia-Nain,; youth representatives and hundreds of community members
“This activity has transformed the negative habit of our youth, such as drinking alcohol and hanging around in the street, to the positive activity of practicing their sport talents. This can help prevent conflict and maintain stability in this community”, said Chief Carlos Marques Ribeiro. “We will not let this football court be empty and we will seek more support to conduct such activities in the future.”
During the month-long competition, more than 200 men, women, youth and children competed in indoor football, volleyball, dada tali (tug of war) and sack racing.