Moving beyond conflict in Mozambique
In post-war Mozambique, the effects of bitter civil war have left high levels of criminality and widespread availability of guns. Now the local peacebuilding organisation FORMICRES who were crucial in disarming rebels after the war have launched a new programme to assist a government drive towards community policing.
Despite Mozambique signing a peace agreement in 1992 and holding several peaceful and democratic elections since, there’s still a long way to go for the south-east African country. Local peacebuilding group FOMICRES is led by former child soldier Albino Forquila and focuses on preventing and controlling violent crime in a country still experiencing the aftermath of trauma and conflict. Founded in 1995 under the name Community Intelligence Force (FIC) the group formed to continue the UN’s work toward disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating conflicting parties. Ten years after its formation the group underwent a name change and has now expanded their focus to additional security issues.
Currently the FOMICRES focus is on the shortage of police in Mozambique, as more policemen die each year of AIDS than are trained to replace them. Across Mozambique almost half a million community volunteers assist the police, but many are less effective than they could be, due to a lack of training. With funding from the German Government via Peace Direct, FOMICRES’ Albino wants to prove that careful selection of policing volunteers and a new volunteer training course can bring down rates of violent crime.
We must roll up our sleeves and get down to work. Only through work, a lot of work and dedication can we introduce changes, improve standards of living and put family, community or country on the road to development Excerpt from the FOMICRES principles and values.
This peacebuilding program is quite unique as it is being carried out with a controlled trial including communities that did not receive training, in order to compare the impact the training has on crime levels in communities where FORMICRES trained volunteers are working.
Prior to turning their attentions to community policing FORMICRES spent ten years focusing on disarmament in Mozambique. This program saw them visiting communities suspected of holding weapons and challenging them about why they were keeping the stashes. If a community agreed to be rid of its weapons, FOMICRES would destroy them in full view of everyone. The people handing in weapons would then be rewarded with economic incentives according to a tariff – a small collection of weapons might win a bicycle, building materials or a sewing machine, while a larger collection of 700 weapons or more could be worth a tractor.
A few of these weapons are preserved and reused in sculptures (see image above) that spread a wider message – such as the celebrated Throne Of Weapons, a chair made from cut up guns, which is now owned by the British Museum and has toured the world with its message of peace built out of war.