Search for Common Ground: Take Action to End Violence against Civilians


An email from Shamil Idriss, President and CEO of Search for Common Ground

Violence against civilians – from mass shootings to genocide – is a horror we all want to prevent. Such terrible tragedies should be unconscionable. Learn more and take action:

1. Save lives from Boko Haram

Recently, Boko Haram murdered at least 86 individuals, kidnapped children, and burned down homes in Dalori, Nigeria. It happened just 11 miles one of our bases of operation. Click here for Program Manager Gideon Poki’s take as he speaks with TIME Magazine about the violence. Thankfully, none of our staff or their families was harmed. But, Boko Haram has killed about 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million Nigerians from their homes in 6 years. They’ve been gaining momentum, with deep roots in economic desperation and grievances. Boko Haram’s increasing attacks terrorize civilians in northeast Nigeria, leaving broken families, widespread loss of life and property, breakdown of basic services, hunger, and increased poverty.


Right now, Search is piloting an early warning system in two communities at the heart of the attacks. Think of it like Paul Revere’s ride or a tornado siren, using trained volunteer community responders. Check out a similar system we used to help stop violence around Nigeria’s elections last year. We need to expand this vital warning system to more communities. We also need to bring civilians and government officials together, building trust so they can anticipate threats and prevent them together. Give now to stop violence against civilians.

2. Urge U.S. Congress to take action

After mass violence, the world looks back in shame. Why did we allow it to happen? Couldn’t we have saved thousands, even millions, of lives? Genocide and other mass violence is an unspeakable crime that can be prevented. If you’re a U.S. citizen, here’s a chance to join the effort.

(article continued on the right side of the page)

Question for this article

Islamic extremism, how should it be opposed?

Readers’ comments are invited on this question and article. See below for comments box.

(article continued from the left side of the page)

The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act will create opportunities for civilian-led efforts to prevent mass violence:

• Authorizes the President to establish an Atrocities Prevention Board (APB). It will coordinate the U.S. government’s efforts to prevent and respond to atrocities.

• Trains all Foreign Service Officers in recognizing early warning signs of emerging conflict or atrocities – similar to how Search is training Nigerian community responders (above).

• Makes mass violence prevention the U.S.’s official policy, so that resources and political will may be mobilized in time to save lives.
Through the Peace Alliance, you can easily send letters to your representatives in Congress. Urge them to support the bill.

3. Listen and share radio spots

Radio can cut across diverse landscapes to the most rural areas. It can divide people and stir up hate, as it was used in the Rwandan genocide. Or it can dispel rumors and build peace. Our fearless radio partners around the world are an objective voice in a biased news cycle. In celebration of World Radio Day, we’ve rounded up some of the most critical ways we used radio in 2015 to stop violence and bring people together. From Burundi’s political violence to Nepal’s earthquake response to Niger’s refugee tensions, radio is a powerful tool to prevent violence from spinning out of control. Check out our radio spots.

We can all agree that violence against mothers and fathers, boys and girls who are simply going to work and school, living their lives, is wrong. We’re getting smarter, as people, as countries, and as a global community, about how to stop mass atrocities before they happen. Understand what’s at stake and what we can do. Then let’s come together and get it done.
Thank you for your tireless efforts,