Nonviolent Peaceforce Awarded Soros Grant for Kyrgyzstan Program
In August, Nonviolent Peaceforce received a first-time grant from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) Emergency Fund. Channeled through the foundation’s office in Budapest, this unique short-term grant will propel us toward establishing a program in Kyrgyzstan next year.
OSF was founded by renowned US financier George Soros, whose foundations have provided crucial support to the promotion of human rights, justice, and accountability in the post-communist world, especially Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, the Soros Foundation focuses on reform of public institutions and democratic debate around policy and social issues.
While its priority areas include local governance, media freedom, and public health, the foundation supports NP’s work toward deployment of an international presence in the south of Kyrgyzstan, which will create safe space for civil society action on peace and reconciliation. We will also position ourselves to address the insecurity faced by many communities in the south, consistent with the Soros Foundation’s vigorous efforts to advance the rights of vulnerable populations.
Kyrgyzstan was convulsed by a wave of inter-communal violence in June 2010. Attacks left 356 people dead and over 300,000 internally displaced in the ethnically diverse south. That unrest underscored the country’s fragility and the extent to which public disaffection and social exclusion can be mobilized for violence and conflict.
We sent a team to Kyrgyzstan in the fall of 2010 to do an initial exploration. We found that the affected populations still need support to regain confidence in community safety, rebuild inter-ethnic trust, and develop the capacity to mitigate and manage future shocks. The OSF grant will help us identify entry points in Kyrgyzstan, strengthen relationships on the ground with key public officials and independent civil society, and conduct an in-depth conflict analysis.
As a first step, Nonviolent Peaceforce will assess the security needs of local population in the Osh and Jalalabad regions, beginning in November 2011. Staff will conduct field visits in January 2012. In the spring of next year, we will report back to OSF on our progress—and on efforts to attract other donor partners to the new program. OSF’s support will help Nonviolent Peaceforce prepare to deploy international personnel in Kyrgyzstan. These teams will provide direct protection to at-risk individuals and communities and build the capacity of local actors to prevent violent conflict.