Event Reports

Empowering Youth from the Refugee and Host Communities in Good Governance and Human Rights

Following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, hundreds of thousands of Syrians fled to Syria’s neighbor country Lebanon. To counteract growing tensions between the Lebanese host communities and Syrian refugee communities, the Syria/Iraq Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in cooperation with Advanced Democracy for Sustainable Peace (AD 4 Peace) designed a series of workshops, aimed at building social cohesion between Lebanese and Syrian Youth by promoting democracy, human rights, and active citizenship while adopting a peer to peer and volunteerism approach.

In Lebanon alone, the number of registered Syrian refugees has reached over 1.5 million, in addition to unregistered refugees and Syrian children born in Lebanon, thus constituting about one-third of the country’s population and the highest refugee per capita concentration in the world. The communities hosting Syrian refugees are struggling to meet basic needs, and face rising and deteriorating intra-communal social tensions. While the refugees are welcomed and supported by Lebanese families, NGOs and municipalities, they also suffer from the prejudices, discrimination, exploitation, and violence that is rife in the Lebanese republic.

Building social ties and bonds between the youth of both communities is essential for peacebuilding and ensuring sustainable peace. Therefore, KAS and AD 4 Peace held a series of eight workshop for 21 young Syrian and Lebanese people from different educational and social backgrounds, which aimed at building their capacities on the principles of good governance and lobbying for human rights issues. An additional focus was laid on the importance of advocacy campaigning and its impact on political and social causes. During the first three workshops, the youth’s leadership and communication skills were developed as well as their capacities for effective teamwork. Building on these skills, the fourth workshop introduced them to the topics of human rights, children’s rights, women’s rights and the rights of refugees. The last four workshops concentrated on advocacy campaigns as well as the concepts of good governance, citizenship, democracy and electoral systems. Overall, this project not only empowered the Lebanese and Syrian Youth to lead and carry out advocacy campaigns in their communities in order to develop a sense of responsibility to engage in social issues but they also learned mutual tolerance and acceptance of the other, strengthening social cohesion between the refugee communities and the host communities.