Boko Haram crisis resolution will be long: Michael Doherty (BBC Radio Ulster)

Speaking on the BBC Radio Ulster news programme, Good Morning Ulster, FCT Derry-Londonderry chairperson Michael Doherty discussed the current girl kidnapping crisis in Nigeria, by Boko Haram.

Mr Doherty explained that Boko Haram has a literal translation of the prohibition of Western education, and how its leader has a belief that the captured girls are spoils of war, with whom he can have sex.

Doherty believes that the girls have been split up into smaller groups, making a recovery process more difficult.

He quoted fellow Forum member from Kaduna, Pastor James Wuye, who said that once someone is indoctrinated with the values of hate, it takes time to decommission that mindset. Consequently, the larger issue of the hold that Boko Haram has in parts of Nigeria will take much longer than people presume:

FCT 2013 Northern Ireland interviews (BBC Radio Ulster)

Karen Patterson (BBC Radio Ulster) interviews Tim Attwood (FCT Belfast) and Michael Doherty (FCT Derry-Londonderry) about their forthcoming travel to Kaduna, Nigeria, for the annual conference of the Forum for Cities in Transition:

Mark Patterson (BBC Radio Foyle) interviews Michael Doherty separately:

Kaduna to host Cities in Transition conference (WorldStage News)

Map Kaduna State WorldStage News

Kaduna to host Cities in Transition conference
by Innocent Senyo
23 September 2013

WorldStage News: Kaduna State (Nigeria) is to host the fifth edition of the global conference of the Cities in Transition scheduled for between November 4 to 8, the Chief of Staff to the Governor and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Yahaya Aminu has said.

Aminu, while addressing a news conference along with the Director of the Forum of Cities in Transition, Prof. Padraig O’Malley, said that about 92 international delegates and 12 African countries that has passed through one crisis or the other are expected to attend and share experiences at the conference.

According to him, delegates are expected to attend the conference from Iraq, Isreal, Palestine, Albania, Bosnia and Harzegovina, Cyprus, Ireland, South Africa, Liberia, South Sudan, Ethipia, Rwanda among others.

He said that participants will also be expected from Nigerian cities with history of crisis such as Warri, Ife/Modakeke, Kano, Shagamu, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Plateau etc.

Also speaking, Prof. O’Malley who is the convener of the conference explained that the Forum for Cities in Transition was formed to create a platform for reconciliation between communities that have suffered from conflict and are divided along ethnic and religious lines and create dynamics that serve as catalyst for change.

He said further that the Cities in Transition conferences are held yearly in cities that are divided by conflict, adding that participants who are drawn from conflict stricken areas of the world come together to share experiences and mutual similarities before making commitments and resolutions to resolve the crisis and bridge the divides.

He said “the Forum for Cities in Transition (FCT) is set out to create a platform for reconciliation between existing conflict inflicted societies and communities. This is based on the fact that cities in transitions in countries divided by conflict are in better position tom help other cities in similar situation as each city is at a different stage of transition.

“Apart from Kaduna, we have 12 cities across 12 continents, 14 cities across Africa, six cities in Nigeria and seven African countries involved. They have common problems ranging from policing, garbage collection, housing, road construction, the provision of health and welfare services to identifying flash points and interfaces that trigger violence”.


Northern Ireland delegation visits war-torn Iraqi city for conflict talk (Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland delegation visits war-torn Iraqi city for conflict talk
By Brendan McDaid (Belfast Telegraph)
18 October 2012

A delegation from Belfast and Londonderry has made a ground-breaking trip to the war-torn Iraqi city of Kirkuk to speak about experiences in post-conflict Northern Ireland.

The visit was undertaken amid tight security and secrecy.

It was the first time an international conference has been staged in Kirkuk, recognised as one of the most dangerous places in the world.

As a result, negotiations are now taking place to host officers from the Iraqi police to take part in the World Police & Fire Games in Belfast in 2013.

Foyle PSNI commander Jon Burrows, Chief Inspector Chris Yates, SDLP councillor Gerard Diver and Michael Doherty from the Peace and Reconciliation Group, made up the Derry delegation.

Four councillors from Belfast City Council also took part.

A bomb went off killing two police officers and a civilian close to where the conference was taking place. The event was organised by the international Forum for Cities in Transition, but some delegates from the 12 cities involved pulled out amid security fears, while sections of the Iraqi government opposed the event.

Mr Diver said there was a real sense of deja vu in a city where checkpoints, military patrols and explosions are an everyday reality for the people.

He said: “The atmosphere was tense. We had to do a journey from where we were staying to a high-risk area, a journey of about an hour, and we had so many soldiers and police to protect us that you couldn’t help feeling a bit anxious about it.

“That kind of tension is palpable. You can feel it in the air and the security presence would remind you of here years ago, although the problems there in terms of scale and of building trust is mindblowing.

“But it was a very worthwhile experience,” he said.

“The people there were so appreciative of the fact we went there.”

Councillors fly to secret Iraq meeting (Sunday Life)

Councillors fly to secret Iraq meeting
(Sunday Life)
7 October 2012

Four Belfast councillors were among a delegation that flew into war-torn Iraq in almost total secrecy today.

The UUP’s Bob Stoker, SDLP man Tim Attwood, John Kyle of the PUP and Alliance’s Mervyn Jones flew out but their names had been kept under wraps and a strict embargo was placed on advance news of the trip to oil-rich Kirkuk.

The councillors, along with a number of public representatives from Derry and delegates from the voluntary and community sector, are attending a Forum for Cities in Transition conference.

But as they would have been aware in advance, Kirkuk, north of Baghdad, is one of the most dangerous and disputed areas in the country.

Terrorist bombers and insurgents maintain the ability to strike almost at will and embassy officials in the region also warn: “There remains a high risk of kidnapping and caution should be exercised.”

As Allan Leonard, director of the Northern Ireland Foundation, pointed out yesterday: “Given the problems Kirkuk is experiencing it’s not something we wanted in the public domain in advance. Names before the conference began would be bad.”

The Foundation is an independent, non-profit organisation that develops programmes around a shared future in Northern Ireland.

It is co-Secretariat of the Forum conference, which works on the principle that cities which are in conflict or have emerged from conflict are in the best position to help other cities in a similar situation.

Surprisinly, even among the city delegation from Derry there is no representative from either Sinn Fein or the DUP.

“They did not take up the invitation,” said Mr Leonard.

Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’ (WBUR)

Peace professor: What keeps people apart are barriers ‘created mostly by their governments’
Here And Now (WBUR)
17 June 2011 

Here And Now Guest: Padraig O’Malley, professor of international peace and reconciliation at the University of Massachusetts:

The city of Derry, once a flash point during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, was the setting for the latest meeting of the Forum for Cities in Transition.

Participants from other divided cities around the world attended the conference as part of a long process to bridge ethnic gaps.

UMASS International relations professor Padraig O’Malley told Here & Now‘s Monica Brady-Myerov that “what keeps people apart is not people, it’s artificial barriers created mostly by their governments.”


Haifa as a Model City of Joint Living project gains international recognition (New Israel Fund)

20110617 NIF Shatil

MARSHOOD FathiHaifa as a Model City of Joint Living project gains international recognition: A first-hand report from Fathi Marshood, director of SHATIL in the North…
Fathi Marshood (New Israel Fund)
16 June 2011

Last month, Shahira Shalabi, head of SHATIL’s Shared Society projects, and I had the privilege of sharing the lessons and challenges of SHATIL’s Haifa as a Model City of Joint Living project with representatives of cities in transition from throughout the world.

The project works to transform Haifa into a shared city based on partnership respecting all residents and strengthening a mutual sense of ownership over life in Haifa.

It was an invaluable learning experience for all of us to hear about the work of and mingle with representatives from Beirut; Belfast; Derry/Londonderry; Kaduna (a new city in Nigeria); Kirkuk, Iraq; Mitrovica, Kosovo; the borough of Mitte in Berlin; Mostar, Bosnia; Nicosia, Cyprus; Jerusalem and Ramallah.

We met together in the Forum for Cities in Transition second annual conference in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland for five days to advance our efforts to bring peace to the cities in which we live and love – and sometimes clash.

Participation in the conference and the related forum position SHATIL as a social change leader both locally and internationally. Every other delegation – with the exception of Beirut – was organized by the municipalities.

The Haifa delegation of three Jews and three Arabs, including members of the Haifa City Council and leaders in municipal planning and social services, was organized by SHATIL.

There were many moving moments in the conference for me, including the presentation of a Kurdish woman from Kirkuk whose husband was killed by the authorities for his anti-establishment views. This woman grew from her tragedy and today sits on the Kirkuk City Council with Turks, Christians and Sunni and Shiite Muslims and tries to promote a different view of the future of her city.

In Kaduna, Nigeria, where the conflict is between Muslims and Christians, thousands of people were slaughtered and churches and mosques were burned.

To see representatives of these communities working together now is simply amazing.

In one of our efforts to support one another, we invited Serbian and Albanian volunteers from Kosovo to Haifa for 10 days in August, two of which will be devoted to a workshop on conflict management. SHATIL is planning the program and the Haifa Municipality is hosting the group.

We are also thinking about the feasibility of inviting representatives of these cities to Haifa in order to work on promoting women’s issues and participation in the peacemaking process.

One of the tools we learned about that we would like to incorporate into our program is the use of art to promote coexistence with both children and adults. And of course others learned from our experiences as well.

We left inspired. If people who have lived through such dire conflicts can succeed – we can, too.

‘Integrated Communities’ featured in Forum for Cities in Transition 2011 (RDC)

‘Integrating Communities’ featured in Forum for Cities in Transition 2011…
(Rural Development Council)
31 May 2011 

The RDC managed programme was featured in the presentations of International Fund for Ireland at the Forum for Cities in Transition during Community Relations Week.

Speaking at the event International Fund for Ireland Chair, Denis Rooney CBE said: “This week’s conference has provided the Fund with the perfect opportunity to showcase its work to an interested, knowledgeable and very influential national and international audience. With more than 25 years’ experience of developing and funding initiatives that tackle segregation and support reconciliation between Unionists and Nationalists we are committed to sharing our experiences and expertise with other countries and regions who want to move beyond conflict to create more stable civic societies”.