Newsletter December 2023

Dear members and friends,

Wishing you all our best wishes for the New Year and a healthy, happy and prosperous 2024. Please find below the latest, brief updates. It has been a challenging time for all of our projects, but all show how the restorative power of simple justice can provide safety and comfort. This is only possible because of the courage of our team and partners in the field and your continued support!

1° Palestine – Israel :

Although Vivere does not work in Palestine or Israel, it still seems appropriate for our movement, whose central tenet is that of the fight against injustice and impunity, to express our opinion on the tragedy currently ravaging through this region. André Barthélémy, a member of Vivere and Honorary President of ‘Agir-working together for human rights’-aptly expresses our views:

 Peace by Legal Means

The war crimes committed by the military branch of Hamas on 7 October 2023 are truly horrific and despicable to all humanity. Nothing can justify or excuse these crimes. They must be tried,as must genocide  according to  International Law,and before the International Criminal Court, created in 1998.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterrès, correctly observed that these crimes did not occur in a vacuum. Israel has been an occupying power in  the Palestinian territory of Cisjordan and  East Jerusalem since 1967, and the Gaza strip until 2005.This role-always intended to be temporary- and according to International Law, is to ensure the safety of the civilian population (Geneva Convention IV with regards to the protection of a civilian population in a situation of war, 12 August 1949). However, Israel has been severely violating this Convention for the past 56 years with regards to the Palestinian population: pulling down houses, permitting land grabs, prolonged state detention without trial,illegal executions, forced displacement…..

It is certainly true that Israel could not have done nothing in the wake of the 7 October massacres, but the action that the government has taken, the devastation of  Gaza, the destructive punishment inflicted on the population, most of whom are in no way implicated in the crimes committed by Hamas, is in itself a war crime.117 NGOs and 298 lawyers from many different countries have put forward a motion to the International Criminal Court, accusing Israel of genocide. Whist the term ‘genocide’ is emotive, it can be understood because of the sheer scale of the humanitarian disaster and loss of life that has taken place.

And after all this? How do we avoid a vicious cycle of massacres?

Respecting International Law, much maligned in the past, is the only way that a true and lasting peace can be reached.

In 1947, the UN adopted resolution 181. This was recognised by the PLO and set out a plan for partition of the disputed territories- one state for the Jews, one state for the Arabs. The state of Israel exists. The Palestinians are still waiting for their state. The solution whereby the two states can co-exist, in which there are secure and mutually recognised borders, in which Palestine has East Jerusalem as its capital, Israel has West Jerusalem as its capital-must be the goal. Is this a utopian dream? At present, with so much hate on each side, it is difficult to imagine the current leaders being able to negotiate any acceptable solution. It is up to the international community to work towards peace and impose a solution if necessary. A joint european and american initiative seems to be essential if  such a solution is to be reached. However difficult this might appear, especially in the midst of all of this barbarity. The two state solution is the only realistic option on offer. Let’s share this hopeful view expressed by Elie Barnavie-former french ambassador and peace activist: Humanity often has to reach rock bottom before being able to come up again.

2° Help to Ukrainian Refugees in Montenegro

In mid 2022, one of our partners in West Ukraine, Olga M. had to flee the bombings with her child. They left Poland last September because the conditions for refugees had become more difficult and went to Montenegro. Olga wasted no time in setting up a project in favour of single Ukrainian mothers and their children, with the support of Vivere. Since September, 64 people (25 adults and 39 children) have received medicine, food and clothes. The total cost of this is CHF 1 128, or CHF 17.62 per person(E 18. 61). These refugees come from :Dniepr, Kharkiv, Odessa, Marianka, Kramatorsk, Nikolaïev, Zaporozhye, Krivoy Rog, Irpen, Sumi, Marioupol, Kyiv et Kherson.

Reminder: Ever since the first days of the conflict, our movement has been continuing to provide similar support to Ukrainian refugees in Transnistria and Poland, as well as to people displaced by the conflict but who are still in Ukraine in the area around Kharkiv.

3° South Kivu, to the east of the Democratic Replublic of Congo: education for war orphans.

This project, started in October 2016, is aimed at getting young girls who have been orphaned and whose schooling has been interrupted by the violence ravaging this region, back into school. A total of 66 adolescents have benefited from this scheme so far. Together  with our partner organisation FEDA, we give support to:

  • 22 primary and secondary students in village schools in the Kazimia region
  • 5 young adults pictured below, who have found the strength of character to pursue professional training.
The Agricultural College in Kazimia

The ISTM in Baraka (training Health Care Workers)

Below is the story of one of the girls as told to us:

My father was killed in October 2016. We had been forced out of our village and were living in the open air in a forest. My father was murdered by the rebel group on his way to the village of Ngalula to find food for us.

A huge crowd of displaced people passed by where we were and told us that our father had been murdered. So, in the chaos my brothers and I just followed them, without seeing which way our mother went. We still don’t know if she is alive or dead.

We came to a lake in the village of Kabanga, where fortunately our grandmother ZAI Musa was living. After a wait of 3 months,she put us into a dug-out canoe to take us to Kazimia where our paternal uncle was living.There were four of us-3 girls and one boy. I was the eldest girl.

Our uncle told us that he couldn’t take on responsibility for the education of any more children since he was married and already had 5 children. We were discriminated against, neglected, and didn’t have any access to education, food, lodging, clothes unlike his children, our cousins. We were completely abandoned and left to our own devices.

I had to find temporary work during the holidays so that I could cover the costs of my schooling and to take care of my little brothers.

I had to use all of my courage and daring to try to get help. I didn’t even know if any kind of program existed, but I went to the FEDA offices to ask for help and they looked into my case to verify it.

I would be so happy to be accepted onto the scheme.”

4° Pakistan : Abolition of the Death Penalty and Life Imprisonment of Minors.

There are four provinces where our partners- experienced lawyers-have been working to target the extreme punishments given out to children who are in conflict with the law and more broadly to ensure concrete progress in the juvenile justice system. Several projects have started in the last semester, all requiring a lot of energy: training lawyers and others working in the legal system,press conferences to increase public awareness and demands to the authorities and forces of law and order.


In total, several hundred professionals have taken part in these workshops. The cumulative effect of these, together with the earlier ones that we have been holding since February 2019 mean that we can be reasonably assured that the Juvenile Justice System is better understood and served for a significant number of children who have had some brushes with the law which could lead to heavy sentences.

Dear friends and members, thank you again for your interest in the work Vivere does. Please accept our very best wishes for the New Year and 2024!

Vivere, (committee)