Central African Republic interfaith group clinches prize in memory of slain UN leader

(Photo: REUTERS / Luc Gnago)(L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui and commander of French forces in the Central African Republic, General Francisco Soriano, attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui February 10, 2014.

The Interfaith Peace Platform has won a notable international peace award for its work reconciling warring Christian and Muslim groups in the hope of reaching a lasting peace in Central African Republic.

CAR is a country devastated by a war between different factions claiming to represent religious.

The award ceremony for the Sergio Vieira de Mello award 2015 will take place August 19 on World Humanitarian Day at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, the foundation in memory of the slain U.N. leader announced July 23.

The prize is in the memory of Sergio Vieira de Mello who was considered a potential U.N. secretary general before he was killed in Iraq.

"The Interfaith Peace Platform shows what it takes during a crisis to bring a country together across the social, cultural and religious divides", said Laurent Vieira de Mello, president of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation.

"The Interfaith Peace Platform serves as a model much needed in other countries in conflict and shows that prevention and dialogue are the key for solving refugee and displacement crises."

The prize is given every two years by the foundation every two years gives an award to an individual, group or an organization that has done something special to reconcile people and parties in conflict.

De Mello, the U.N. Secretary General's representative in Iraq, was killed in the UN compound bombing in Bagdad on August 19, 2003 along with 20 members of his staff.

The Interfaith Platform promotes dialogue as a preventive measure against religious violence and a means to pursue peace across CAR.

It was established in 2013 by representatives of the three most important religions in the country, the Catholic Archbishop of Bangui, Monsigor Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the President of the Islamic Council in CAR, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama and by the President of the Evangelical Alliance, Pastor Nicolas Guérékoyaméné-Gbangou.

In the middle of the war, the three religious leaders agreed to act together to address the growing unrest in the Central Africa Republic.

Since then they continue to persuade Muslims, Catholics and Protestants to avoid further violence and revenge among their religious communities.

They travel extensively throughout the country, visiting cities and villages and talking to the communities about peace, mutual respect, tolerance and trust.

In addition, their international lobby has led to the unanimous decision of the Security Council to establish a U.N. Peace Keeping force in CAR, MINUSCA.

Ravaged by violence, the Central African Republic a country in the heart of Africa, has experienced the worst crisis in its history.

Manipulating religion for political purposes in the country has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and sent many more on the roads to exile and displacement.

The heads of Catholic and Muslim and Protestant communities have been working together tirelessly to restore the social fabric of their country by addressing the root causes of mistrust in remote villages.

The Prize, selected by a jury of international representatives, is awarded every two years.

Sergio Vieira de Mello De Mello was a Brazilian United Nations employee for more than 34 years. He earned international respect for his efforts around the world in U.N. humanitarian and political programs.

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