This interview was three years past due.
I met Eric Niragira in 2010, while backpacking through Burundi. After an introduction from a mutual friend, we met over dinner in a small restaurant in Bujumbura. I listened to Eric share his story and decided I had to try to do something to help him share his story. I arranged for us to meet the following day to do an audio interview, but when I woke up the next morning sick with food poisoning, I couldn’t make it.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I was visiting New York City and found out via Facebook that Eric was in visiting. He was at the United Nation’s Headquarters to work with colleagues from around the world to advocate for victim assistance in the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty – something in itself was under-reported throughout the tiny news coverage of the Arms Trade Treaty.
By the end of the conference, the Arms Trade Treaty was passed — with some recognition of the need for victim assistance. The preamble recognizes ”that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those affected by armed conflict and armed violence” and “the challenges faced by victims of armed conflict and their need for adequate care, rehabilitation and social and economic inclusion” but I feel cynical in my beliefs that the support may only be on paper.
To continue to change the realities on the ground for many of the victims of armed violence and conflict, we need to continue to support organizations like CEDAC (Eric’s NGO) and help people like Eric Niragira carry out their inspiring work.