It is possible to prevent violent radicalization. This Friday, Finn Church Aid launches a year-long campaign focusing on pre-emptive measures against violent radicalization both in Finland and abroad.
Preventing violent radicalization requires addressing the reasons behind it: lack of education, absence of livelihood opportunities, and the feelings of discrimination and exclusion.
The young people who have grown up in conflict situations need special support. The solidarity offered by extremist groups may, however, seem tempting even to the young people who have grown up in wealthy surroundings if they don’t feel like they are fitting in.
Religious leaders, too, have an important role in preventing violent radicalization, and it is essential that they are involved in the planning of proper solutions. Working with religious leaders, Finn Church Aid has achieved considerable results at the grassroots level peace work for example in Somalia and the Central African Republic.
This year, the FCA will apply its experience in international peace work to preventing violent radicalization in Finland as well.
“The FCA has plenty of experience in dealing with extremist groups in conflict zones and in integrating combatants back into society. This could be beneficial for Finland. Most important, however, are the pre-emptive actions taken by religious communities themselves. That is why we aim to support a functioning cooperation between the religious communities and the authorities, both abroad and in Finland”, explains Antti Pentikäinen, Executive Director at Finn Church Aid.
Peace United plays for peace
Finn Church Aid has set up a football team, Peace United, for the purpose of carrying out peace work with the youth. It encourages people to take action for peace.
“Football unites people around the world. For many young people living under difficult conditions it is also an outlet – a field on which their actions matter. The experience of having control of one’s own life prevents insecurity and frustration”, says campaign manager Eeva-Maria Laakso.
In February, the captains of Peace United, Aki Riihilahti and Laura Österberg Kalmari, and sport journalist Kaj Kunnas, visited the Za’atr refugee camp in Jordan. There, they met with young people who have grown up amongst war, and got to see how the work of FCA keeps them from becoming frustrated and gives them recreational activities to help pass the time in the difficult conditions of the camp.
Peace United invites all Finns to join its ranks alongside the professionals.
Elisa Vepsäläinen, Advocacy Adviser +358 40 630 2701
Maija Sankari, Head of Communications +358 40 559 4030