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Supporting social cohesion by reducing tensions

Supporting social cohesion by reducing tensions
As the Syrian crisis goes on, Lebanese host communities are witnessing socio-economic and security implications affecting their everyday life.
Signs of conflicts between the Lebanese and Syrian communities are becoming clear in many regions across the country. Faced with the overload of challenges at different levels, municipalities are left alone with limited technical guidance to address the implications of this crisis.
We should be aware that we are currently living in a crisis. We don’t have water or electricity… We are experiencing a very sensitive and critical situation”, said Ali, a participant from Hawsh Al Harimeh.

Through its new “Stabilization and Recovery Programme”, The UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project, funded by LRF-Germany, is developing an initiative for enhancing social cohesion in Lebanese host communities affected by the Syrian crisis.

The project has invited a cluster of villages and towns in West Bekaa to participate in the process, namely Ghaza, Al Mansoura, Hawsh El Harimeh, Al Marj, Jeb Jannine, Machghara and Karaoun. The aim is to create local peacebuilding mechanisms to improve intercommunity relations both in terms of inter Lebanese relations and Lebanese Syrian interaction.

For this purpose, the Project has identified a specific group from the seven targeted municipalities to determine the main conflict-driven topics in the area affecting intercommunity relations or social cohesion. As part of the process, this same group of mayors, municipal council members, Mukhtars, participants representing different departments within the municipalities, and local active people attended a training by Mr. Fadi Abi Allam, a prominent trainer and facilitator, on crisis management. The training that took place between October 7 and October 9, 2014 covered many topics such as conflict analysis, conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

“What we have learned from this training can be applied in our work, family and home. Everyone can start making the changes in their home,” said a nurse from Al Mansoura. A comment shared by Mahmoud Ibrahim, a municipality member from Al Marj, who hoped that the participants in the training will later on meet as one team representing all municipalities to face and resolve the crisis.