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brussels conference b4c hopes and challenges for the future


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What's new?

The 4th Brussels B4C conference on the Future of Syria and Region is being held in exceptional circumstances this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the organizers to decide to conduct the conference online while maintaining the same objectives of the meeting.

How important is that?

At this conference, the organizers have chosen seven key topics to work on. These make up almost all of the issues currently of highest concern to Syrians. In addition, the conference generates the largest amount of funding for humanitarian work and is one of the most important vehicles of Syrian civil society in participating in shaping the future of Syria. In this context, TEVN worked with her partners to prepare this paper on the seven topics on the table in order to contribute to the conference in meeting the basic needs of Syrians and to include their voices in a real and effective way in decision-making.

What should be done?

TEVN proposes that donor countries increase their support for projects focused on economic empowerment, health and education, and a restructuring of the distribution of funding based on political considerations. Support should furthermore conform to a set of criteria that help to improve inclusion and ensure that funding is not used to increase violence and human rights violations. Funding should moreover be restricted to organizations who commit to protecting civic space, and the leadership role of Syrian local organizations should be increased in planning and participation in the upcoming Brussels conference. Although the financing of rehabilitation programs is now projected to start after the political transition, such economic sanctions should be reviewed in the light of Covid-19 and the current humanitarian situation particularly with regard to the health and education sectors. Finally, careful monitoring of programs is necessary to avoid possibly corruption and exploitation.

Executive summary

Despite the importance of the Brussels conference in supporting the Syrian people, especially in terms of funding, it still receives criticism. This includes the absence of a leading role for Syrians, international partner organizations’ control of the agenda, and the lack of a clear mechanism to track how the money raised is spent. Finally, there is critique on the lack of inclusion of Syrian refugees in Iraq's Kurdistan region and those living in northeastern Syria, especially the Kurds, because of the sensitivity of the conflict with Turkey. This in turn affects the European Union’s financing policies towards Hasakah Governorate, concerning not only Kurds but also Assyrians and Arabs living there.

Although the focus of funding in these regions has been on livelihood and early recovery programs, continued military tensions have had a negative impact on achieving the desired results. Recently, the Turkish occupation of the area from Tal Abyad to Ras Al Ain, has negatively impacted livelihood programs, which are now not able to reach the entire area and to include vulnerable populations such as women, youth and disabled persons. The dilapidated health sector has faced significant challenges with the proliferation of Covid-19 and is in dire need of near-complete restructuring, as does the education sector.

Furthermore, although the political process is mostly stalled, the political dialogue processes at the local level are still continuing with the participation of regional and international actors. These dialogues must be supported and strengthened to build a basis for the overall political transition. Through these dialogues, social cohesion can be strengthened. It is therefore of utmost importance to take these dialogues seriously, support them, and ensure inclusion of civil society organizations, youth and women. There must be a halt to demographic engineering and return of refugees as a tool and more support for programs that focus on documenting human rights violations in a balanced manner throughout Syria. Finally, funding should protect civic space.

Tevn held a meeting through Cisco Webex with a group of 26 local organizations from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and northeast Syria. Afterwards, a questionnaire was prepared based on the questions asked by the organizing committee of the Brussels conference and answered by these organizations, serving to provide the visions and recommendations of Syrians in the Kurdistan regions of Iraq and northeast Syria.

I. Support for livelihoods and inclusive economic recovery in Syria and the region.

Challenges and constraints in implementing livelihood programs

The challenges facing livelihood programs are not limited to the ongoing violence in Syria recruitment only. There are also structural inefficiencies in funding policies, organizational weaknesses and development strategies. Although the situation in northeast Syria and the Kurdistan region of Iraq is fairly stable, there are still a number of difficulties facing these programs. The followings are the most obvious challenges:

  • Insufficient funds: The funds for livelihood programs do not meet the most basic humanitarian needs for a large proportion of Syrians. Currently, 85% of Syrians live below the poverty line.

  • Expertise: local NGOs lack certain capacities and expertise. Capacity building programs for them are very limited. They lack experience on many fronts including financial reporting, fund management, program development and implementation. Their voices are often not included in the design phase of programs.

  • Lack of effective measuring tools to inform donors and international NGOs about the needs and feasibility of livelihood programs and their role in creating alternative employment opportunities to return to stability.

  • Lack of real support for these programs: the support provided is too limited in relation to the need, and corruption even worsens the situation.

  • The blockade and economic sanctions have prevented funds to reach the northeast Syria. Also, it has negatively impacted cultural and educational institutions which currently lack the capacity to create appropriate curricula.

  • The livelihood programs should reach all vulnerable populations including women, youth and persons with disabilities.

  • Programs should make extra efforts to include women despite customs and traditions in the region that limit their access to these programs.

Livelihood support programs and their role in promoting economic stability

Although livelihood programs have supported to strengthening the resilience of Syrians in the face of the challenging economic conditions, they find themselves in, it cannot be said that these programs have contributed to economic stability. However, they do have a big potential for reducing the impact of unemployment, raising the economic capacity of households and communities, and providing income that will contribute to economic movements and reactivate the markets. Also, they can contribute to eliminating need-based extremism when they target vulnerable groups in society. These programs can be more effective when they:

  • Supporting education: funds should be allocated to the educational sector by funding the creation of modern curricula and providing supplies and stationery to schools. Moreover, teachers should be trained and prepared to deliver classes in more effective ways in light of the current circumstances such as high stress of both teachers and students, and lack of electricity and tools. Special attention should be given to rehabilitation and reconstruction of appropriate curricula.

  • Support programs that focus on capacity-building of staff and vocational training.

  • Distribute resources equally among population groups and include women and youth.

  • Increase employment opportunities by supporting SMBG, supporting livestock development projects and Cash-for-work projects (CFW).

  • Support long-term development programs led by local sustainability-based organizations.

  • Establish Monitoring and Evaluation strategies to measure the success of livelihood programs in addition to mechanisms and programs to stop corruption.

Integrating young people, women and other vulnerable groups into these programs|:

Women and youth are essential for stability and peacebuilding, as recognized by UNSCR Resolutions 2250 and 1325 which reiterate their ability to be agents of positive peace in society. Thus, programs should include them in policy making, strategies and program designs. They are the most affected by conflicted and should have a voice in decisions that affect them. Therefore, inclusion of these groups must be a top priority for economic integration, job creation, stability, and protecting them from recruitment by extremist parties. Such inclusion strategies will play a key role in women's economic independence and control of economic resources, enhancing their decision-making capacities and strengthening their leadership role.

The Impact of Covid-19 on Livelihood and Overall Economic Recovery Programs:

Covid-19 has had big effects on the entire world but for Syrians, whether they are at home, IDPs or in neighboring countries, the situation is catastrophic. Syria, which has been in a devastating war for 10 years, has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, and more than 85% of its population lives below the poverty line.

Economic movement has been paralyzed by the quarantine, accompanied by an excessive price increase, which hence has contributed to increased poverty and destitution and increased unemployment. The quarantine made it moreover difficult for NGOs to communicate with beneficiaries and speak about their needs. Because of the imposed quarantine, the absence of social and health care programs and the absence of compensation, many people have lost their jobs, especially in the private sector, with the disastrous effects of an economy in further freefall and rising cost of living many people cannot afford.

II. Health.

The needs of the health sector: The state of war and instability has deteriorated the health sector in Syria. The closure of border crossings and the spread of Covid-19 have even further exacerbated the situation, as has the Russian-Chinese veto of UN resolution 2165, which led to the closure of the Yaarabiya crossing, the only humanitarian border crossing in northeast Syria. The health sector is unable to cope with any spread of Covid-19 and basic needs are not available. Work must be done to:

  • Reopen humanitarian border crossings to facilitate the entry of medical aid into northeastern Syriaز

  • Rehabilitate and modernize existing medical centers and hospitals, and create new medical centers.

  • The health sector in Syria is almost collapsed in terms of equipment, medicine and even buildings, so the health sector must be supported and provided with tools and supplies.

  • Support the re-establishment of operations of the health sector in Deir Al-Zor, which is currently considered non-operational due to insufficient support.

  • Provide special support and programs to address Covid-19, in terms of the preparation of hospitals and equipment that is needed.

  • Train and support medical staff in northeast Syria, as 50% of medical staff is currently not qualified and training is limited to a few groups.

  • Open health centers and medical points in cities and villages for children and women to treat widespread diseases.

The role of social media and technology tools: Social media and technology have played a role in reducing the rise of the Covid-19 epidemic, having contributed to awareness, education and dissemination of information and to the mitigation of misleading news. Technology also helped to collect and analyze data about the spread of the virus. However, because of the lack of availability of tools for all citizens (for example smartphones) and failing electricity, there are still gaps to bridge when it comes to spreading information about Covid-19 and other health-related matters to the people of northeast Syria.

The main problem that has contributed to reducing the impact of communication and technology is the lack of availability for all citizens, the lack of good networks, and the lack of infrastructure.

Psychological and Mental health needs

War, violence and widespread violations have caused psychological and mental consequences for many Syrians, and the need to address this situation is incredibly high. The following should be acted upon:

  • Care for all children, women and other survivors of violence, exploitation, sexual violence and harassment, and other forms of (gender based) violence. They should gradually re-engage with society. The rehabilitation of ISIS children in refugee and displacement camps moreover warrants special attention.

  • Support the mental and psychological health sector and their staff, including provision of training. The countryside of Deir Al-Zor needs specific attention on the matter.

  • Support protection and community engagement programs through protection- and mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS) projects.

  • Work on awareness-raising programs to increase community awareness on the issues and reduce stigmatization Include MHPSS programs in other humanitarian and livelihoods programs.

III. Children's needs - protection and education

Violations: The most prominent violations suffered by children are physical and psychological violence as a result of the war, in addition to conscription, sexual harassment, underage marriage, denial of education and finally the dismantling of families as a result of displacement, asylum or the loss of a family member.

Protection mechanisms: Perhaps the most prominent issue needed by children is to find a political solution in accordance with UN Resolution 2254 to end the suffering of children, in addition to working to abolish conscription once and for all. Furthermore, there is a need for educational and recreational programs, for which funding should be conditional on the neutrality of education and its liberation from political constraints.

The main challenges of children's education: The greatest challenge to education is to undo it of any links it to politics, which has led to the emptying of educational curricula of their scientific content at the expense of ideology. In addition, there is currently a lack of schools, lack of qualified faculties, child recruitment/conscription, child labor due to poverty and need, lack of advanced teaching tools, inability to concentrate, the spread of the Corona virus and ensuing closure of many schools and educational centers, and poor material resources of families contributing to child drop-out. Furthermore, and alarmingly, there is a general feeling among the population that education has become useless in the current situation in Syria. Other challenges include:

  • Poor quality of teaching staff, migration of teaching staff, poor teaching tools, and unavailability of previous school buildings which are used as accommodation for displaced persons or military camps.

  • Political conflicts between the ruling authorities cause discrepancies between the (quality of) education in different areas.

  • Destruction of educational infrastructure, destroying of schools, lack of books, stationary and other means, lack of specialized staff to rebuild curricula after months or years of backlog.

  • Non-recognition of certificates.

  • Difficult living situation, possible trauma of children and parents.

  • The most important challenge is to recognize the various school curricula and ensuring quality education in areas under the control of factions and militias.

Strengthening and supporting the educational process in Syria and the region under the current circumstances and Covid-19: The following steps should be taken:

  • Providing free e-learning platforms - securing information protection - creating appropriate curricula.

  • Rehabilitation and maintenance of schools affected by the war and raising the efficiency of educational staff.

  • Raising awareness of the importance of education, communicating with parents and caregivers and spreading a culture of e-learning.

  • Enhancing the use of social media in education and find a way to support programs to reach the areas with the highest needs.

  • When physical classes are possible, organizing the classrooms and cleaning and sterilizing classrooms periodically.

  • Keeping the educational process independent from all conflicts and political factions, approaching the educational process from a scientific standpoint.

  • Providing adequate support for the rebuilding of schools, eventually reducing the number of students per school and allowing for the implementation of spacing policies.

IV. Addressing justice and social cohesion of Syrians - priorities and needs in view of the future.

Mechanisms and programs that promote a culture of community dialogue.

  • Work to stop the violence through a comprehensive political process in accordance with UN Resolution 2254, as well as support and promote Syrian dialogue initiatives that seek solutions.

  • Support civil society and programs aimed at rejecting violence and extremism, promoting peaceful and civil coexistence, and supporting various dialogues.

  • Support human rights programs, document violations and support community safety programs.

The most urgent needs for effective social justice and cohesion.

A set of principles that will enhance long-term cohesion must be adopted, including the following measures:

  • Ensuring accountability for all those who committed violations and crimes against Syrians, with an emphasis on perpetrators of violations and war crimes on all sides, as the perpetrators and political supporters of the national army in both Afrin and northeast Syria are far from being punished and prosecuted.

  • The detainees' file must be worked on as a priority. Political detainees must be released, especially in light of the proliferation of Covid-19, and they and their families must receive appropriate support.

  • The blockade must be lifted, and aid must be delivered to all areas with difficult access, resulting from the continuing conflict, to allow citizens access to basic services ahead of justice.

  • The political and social participation and inclusion of all Syrian components throughout the country must be ensured in order to facilitate inclusion in the future of Syria.

  • Reducing the high cost of living because of the blockade and quarantine, and ensuring protection, education and social justice are among the most urgent needs to be addressed.

Mechanisms and methods for documenting human rights violations: Although there is an urgent need to have a more organized and unified methodology for documenting human rights violations inside all of Syria, so far documentation is mainly limited to the work of local and international civil society organizations. However, they suffer from a lack of material resources and adequate funding, which is furthermore politicized by donors funding only documentation work of certain violations or when concerning certain actors. Particularly Housing, Land and Property rights related crimes in Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Afrin committed by Turkish forces and their allies have gone undocumented as a result.

The media also could play an important role not only in highlighting human rights violations but also in documenting them. Social media and technology today also play an important and vital role in documenting these violations, but the problem lies in the networks of countries seeking to control the (online) networks.

Ways to address and mitigate conflicts and tensions within communities in Syria and the region.

The conflicts in Syria are expected to continue in the near future as their causes are still present. Hence, we must work to disarm armed groups and the parties to the conflict, stop the supply of weapons to Syria, support efforts to combat extremism and hate speech, especially violent religious extremism, and finally support efforts that seek to strengthen local dialogues between multiple parties.

V. Empowerment and role of women and youth in Syria and the region.

The basic needs for women's empowerment are: to provide employment opportunities, to focus on social problems such as early marriage or violence against women, to ensure their rights in the Constitution, to change personal laws in terms of custody of their children and descent, and to enact laws to protect the family. There is also a need for training such as vocational education courses, and support for small enterprises for women and young people.

The political participation of women and youth must be ensured, programs and projects for human rights, political empowerment and support for women’s organizations and networks supported and funded, as should organizations have focused on supporting and including young people.

The challenges and obstacles facing women: There are a number of challenges towards realizing women’s potential to fully contribute to a peaceful and inclusive society. These include access to, and completion of, education; working with men to be more susceptible to women working outside of the home and taking leadership roles; changing social norms, customs and traditions; and deradicalizing religious ideas and perceptions that hinder women’s full participation. There are also legal challenges in the absence of laws that guarantee and protect full equality and laws against domestic violence. Economic constraints moreover include widespread poverty, a lack of adequate employment opportunities for women, and more generally the need for economic empowerment of women. Finally, perhaps the greatest challenges is explicit and implicit violence against women, including the stereotypical roles they are often obliged to fulfill because of social norms.

The role of women in promoting community cohesion and peacebuilding at the local level:

In the course of promoting and protecting political participation and economic empowerment enabling financial independence, there should be an aim for women’s representation in all areas and according to individual women’s knowledge and skills, including in politics, health and the economy. Women must be involved in all community

activities be given positions according to education and experience, and must be included in empowerment, education and psychological support programs to help them gain confidence and skills. The role of women must be highlighted through visual and audio media and communication. Throughout, it must be ensured that women are fully included in all these processes, playing active and essential roles in building society.

The role of women in the political process and shaping the future of the country:

Despite laws promoting women's participation in Iraq's Kurdistan region and northeast Syria as a result of women’s rights advocates, their participation in political, economic and social affairs needs to be protected and strengthened. They must be given the space to construct and voice their views on society, have decision-making and leadership positions, and be included in the constitutional process to ensure their rights are protected in line with their needs.

Covid-19 effects on women:

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on all aspects of life for both women and men. However, women were affected differently as women’s empowerment programs have been suspended and women themselves more confined to the home, being burdened with securing the needs of the family instead of economic, political or social work outside of the home. Because of the quarantine, the burden on women as caregivers has increased more than on men, despite the equality laws in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and northeast Syria. Arguably because of economic pressure on men, violence against women and domestic violence have increased during the quarantine.

The basic needs of youth empowerment are:

to protect and provide employment opportunities, improve livelihoods and improve economic realities in various areas that are hit by Covid-19 or the conflict, such as agriculture and livestock; to provide basic compulsory education and university education including human rights education, as well as work to empower young people, building capacity and supporting small youth projects. A culture of peacebuilding and peaceful coexistence should be spread among youth, educating them to stay away from religious and tribal extremism. Marriage is barely possible during the current circumstances which is socially problematic, and psychological and physical support centers for young people including gyms and playgrounds should be established.

The challenges and obstacles facing young people

The absence of basic education and academic education, lack of employment opportunities, lack of security and stability, the disintegration of family income whether as a result of displacement and asylum or due to the disintegration of the family, in addition to forced conscription, religious and tribal extremism, especially when exerted through customs and traditions and finally the boredom and feelings of uselessness in times of crisis without any prospects for the future have proven problematic for youth. These are currently the main challenges influencing the position of youth in political participation, promoting social cohesion and building peace.

The role of young people in promoting community cohesion and building peace at the local level: This role can be enhanced by providing a good level of education, good employment, improving economic conditions and providing young people with opportunities to participate in peacebuilding. School programs can help to strengthen the role of young people in building social cohesion, and support for outreach programs and the provision of university education including financial support can facilitate promoting this role. Finally, psychological support programs for young people must be intensified to reduce the effects of war and violence.

The role of young people in the political process and shaping the future of the country:

To ensure a better future, it is important that young people participate actively in the process of change and democratic transition in a broad sense. Hence it is crucial that young people participate in all dialogue processes, whether inside or outside the country. They should actively participate in the Constitutional Committee and any other dialogue process with at least a 50% ratio, as they make up the largest part of society and the outcomes of these processes will affect them for the longest term. Participation should include not only attendance, but active participation and opportunities to express their opinion and needs. Political and support initiatives and the media play an important role in highlighting and encouraging this participation.

Covid-19 effects on young people:

Covid-19 led to drop-out rates in schools due to the quarantine, causing stagnation and isolation accompanied by some psychological problems such as boredom, fear and a sense of isolation, especially in areas where there was a total curfew. Covid-19, the quarantine and economic pressure has also contributed to increasing the pressure exerted by parents on their children, leading to an increased registration of domestic violence. This can be related to the patriarchal system prevalent in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and northeast Syria. Finally, Covid-19 caused the suspension of some programs of empowerment and support for youth, which were replaced by online dialogue programs.

VI. Displacement, resettlement and return.

One of the biggest challenges in northeast Syria is the issue of internally displaced persons. There are currently more than 5.5 million IDPs inside Syria and resettlement is being used as a tool to perpetuate demographic change and spark community conflicts. Turkey is currently triggering this in Afrin, Tal Abyad, Rass al-Ain, Jarabulus and Azzaz, where the Turkish government and its national army are generating demographic change through large-scale displacements and systematic violence to push the population to migrate. Other operations by Turkey include the housing of large groups of Syrians from other provinces in the homes of local people, forcibly displacing them. This is similar to the agreement of the four cities, (Al-Foua and Kefraya, located in Idlib province, Zabadani and Madaya, located in the western Damascus countryside) signed between the regime and the opposition with Qatari mediation in April 2017. The result has been a shameful demographic change between the Shiite and Sunni populations.

As such, resettlement operations should include people who are native to their towns and villages, not to be distributed according to areas of influence. Return should be safe and voluntary, safeguarding human dignity. Other issues of concern are:

  • Ending the Turkish occupation and its militias of Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain and handing it over to its people.

  • Providing safety, stopping violence, and stopping the supply of arms to Syria and the countries and militias that use it to kill Syrians.

  • Providing appropriate education, which is one of the biggest obstacles to the return of citizens to their towns and villages.

  • Providing jobs opportunities and supporting stability and livelihood projects.

  • Protecting social rights and promoting transitional justice, including the restoration of civil, social and political rights.

VII. Civil documentation mechanisms

In Syria, theft and takeover of private and public property have turned into a form of producing capital to feed the raging war, and has been used as an effective weapon of displacement and demographic change based on national and religious discrimination in Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain by the Turkish army and national army factions. Currently, many fears that these takeovers and thefts will become permanent and turn into a new Northern Cyprus in the event of a prolonged conflict. Hence, civil documentation is needed to preserve the rights and property of the Syrians. Therefore:

  • Real estate documentation projects should be supported without any political considerations, as to date many EU countries have avoided supporting this type of projects in Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ain order to safeguard their interests with Turkey.

  • Local parties in northeastern Syria should cooperate fully with civil society organizations working on civil documentation for the preservation of rights.

  • Civil documentation issues must be worked with hindsight from the moment of the party's takeover, as northeastern Syria suffered from similar events before 2011 as well.

  • The formation of fair committees, fair courts, paper work, land and property titles, specialized records, legal committees and field disclosure should have priority.

  • A neutral international mechanism for archiving and preserving real estate documentation in order to safeguard rights should be established.

Technology can play a prominent role in monitoring the safe and voluntary return of indigenous peoples, ensure that they are not arrested or prosecuted, and monitoring committees composed of local and international organizations can be formed under the auspices of the United Nations. The media and civil society organizations can play a prominent role in this, as political and other solutions cannot be applied to northeast Syria and Afrin without stopping this systematic violence.

The effects of forced conscription: lead to a range of negative effects such as loss of knowledge and illegal migration. Fear of forced conscription sometimes leads to reluctance to leave the home.

Taking civic space: Day by day, civil society organizations are becoming stronger as their roles expand and their expertise increases, which is a concern for parties aiming to control this space and use it to serve their political programs.

Although civic space in northeastern Syria is the largest in all of Syria, it faces serious difficulties including a lack of adequate funding and a lack of fair distribution of funding. The self-administration restricts the organizations’ work through a range of laws and some communities distrust CSOs because of allegations of corruption and the relatively high salaries international NGO staff, creating a social class with the highest incomes in the region. Local authorities and political forces moreover distort the work of CSOs. Finally, there is a lack of understanding of the meaning and role of civic space and those working in it, although we believe this role is crucial for stability in the region and a democratic and inclusive transition.

Trends and topics to be focused on in order to build the capacity of the organizations in Syria and the region: For them to become more effective and fully live up to their potential, CSOs in Syria and the region need continuous and frequent empowerment programs, especially on topics such as strategic planning, project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, internal governance and transparency, mobilization and advocacy, gender, media and social media, digital security training, authentication, dialogue, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

Views on donor efforts: There is no doubt that donor support, whether financially, technically or politically, has had a significant impact in supporting and maintaining civic space in Syria. However, despite these efforts there are still many shortcomings, including:

  • Donor policies are restricted to working directly with local organizations, so they turn to international partner organizations that use local organizations as contract service providers rather than partners.

  • The lack of equity in the distribution of support because of political considerations: in the past years the EU has avoided providing adequate support to refugees in the Kurdistan region and Hasakah Governorate because of Turkey’s role in these areas.

  • The lack of accurate evaluation programs, the lack of careful monitoring of the funds provided and the measurement of their ability to achieve the desired objectives and results.

  • Funding has contributed to the promotion of corruption in all sectors, in addition to the use of bribes by international organizations and the lack of control over their work. It has also contributed to the establishment of a new social class because of a discrepancy between “normal” local salaries and NGO salaries, where the average salary in the local administration is about $50 per month but many organizations have average salaries of over $1 per month.

Unifying and coordinating efforts: First, we must work to build capacity and work to provide adequate support to organizations in the Kurdistan region as well as in the northeast in all sectors, but with an emphasis on CSOs who promote economic empowerment, civil peace, democracy and human rights, and the use of technologies can play an important role in promoting cooperation.

VIII. Threats to vulnerable communities in Syria

Impact of war remnants such as mines and explosives on vulnerable and displaced communities and on humanitarian access and certain livelihood sectors such as agriculture

War remnants such as mines have had a negative impact on the arrival of humanitarian aid in Deir al-Zor. The lack of interest of all international actors in improving the security situation and demining has led to delays in the arrival of aid, and war remnants affect public health and crop produce because of their smoke and smell.

The possible solutions to reduce the risk of such remnants to the local population are as follows:

  • Stop the war and take weapons out of cities and villages.

  • Raise awareness and financial support for organizations working on these issues, and help them stay away from engaging in political agendas, sectarianism and conflicting parties.

  • Monitor these programs.

  • Train specialized teams to clear mines and start awareness campaigns for communities on how to deal with mines and other war remnants.

The challenges facing women and girls in relation to gender-based violence are:

  • Early marriage, dropping out of education and sexual harassment, which has been exacerbated by the war. To mitigate this, awareness must be raised among communities, education efforts must be supported, and suitable employment provided. In addition, laws criminalizing violence must be enacted.

  • The challenges facing women and girls are many and difficult to overcome, but these difficulties can be alleviated by participating in political, social and economic life on an equal footing with men and granting long-term loans to those who wish to set up businesses.

  • Finally, women's organizations and projects must be greatly supported.

Finally, we would like to point out that this paper is the result of collective action between a group of organizations who participated in the meeting and responded to the questionnaire. In this regard we would like to thank everyone who contributed to the publication of this paper. ( list of Name)


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