A marathon for peace in Kinshasa
“The IOC is convinced, more than ever before, that in this third millennium, sport does have a vital role to play in building a better and more peaceful world as it appeals to the community in general and to young people in particular. Sport can facilitate dialogue between different communities and be a catalyst for mutual understanding in our society. This is because we all know that sport is, in essence, the only language understood by everyone. Sports activities promote interaction, tolerance and the spirit of fair play. And we all know that if our youngsters learn through sport to respect each other, they will be well equipped for their role in contributing to a better society”. This was the message from the IOC President Jacques Rogge, to the organisers and participants at an event held on 26 September in Kinshasa by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and the Congolese Olympic Committee, on the occasion of the celebration of International Peace Day. This year, this Day was placed under the message from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: “We must disarm! We must have peace.”
Run for peace
This is the second time that the IOC has been associated with such a programme in this country. Just like the 2006 Peace Games, this new sporting event will be the opportunity for the various communities of your country not only to enjoy recreation and peace, but also to develop trust and confidence between the parties. On the programme, a marathon, in which around 300 runners took part, including some 30 Blue Berets, MONUC civil personnel and members of the Congolese National Police and Army. The main objective of this marathon was to show the way followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo towards peace: a refound peace that will start the departure of the MONUC and therefore the management of crises by the Congolese, with the help of the UNCT (United Nations Country Team). All along the route, which led the runners from the station to the cycling stadium in Kinshasa, signs and banners recalled the various steps towards peace and the necessity of disarming, each time with a reference to the following stage. Culture was also present, with musical events and shows by artists, young people’s associations and women’s groups on the theme of peace.
Events throughout the country
Besides this marathon, MONUC set up various activities throughout the country. From north to south, and from east to west, conferences and discussions, official ceremonies, prizegivings, and walks for peace brought together local authorities, leaders of various communities, young people’s associations and representatives of MONUC. Objective: to encourage dialogue towards peace and give a future to young Congolese people today and tomorrow.
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