Help Young Syrians Affected By War

by International Alert
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Help Young Syrians Affected By War
Credit:  Joe Saade/International Alert
Credit: Joe Saade/International Alert

Dear friends,

This week we acknowledge the disheartening milestone of 10 years since the start of the Syrian civil war.

With the help of your support, International Alert is working to build ties between Syrian refugees and their host communities in Tripoli, Lebanon.

The Peace Education classes run by our local partners, Basmeh and Zeitooneh, work with Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian children to teach them about their rights and how to respect and accept differences in society through playful and engaging lessons.

In total, 358 children benefitted from these lessons in 2020 despite disruptions caused by political unrest, economic turmoil, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our facilitators successfully adapted the classes for remote learning through Whatsapp and continued to teach the children after Lebanon went into lockdown. They continued to make new friends and looked forward to the classes every week. Art and games to process the world around them and the children even wrote a song to help process the explosion in Beirut.

By the end of the sessions, 4 out of 5 of children could resolve conflicts peacefully and more than 90% of the children were including others from different backgrounds into their groups.

The classes also gave children and parents the tools to cope with the stresses of lockdown and it is significant that parents encouraged their children to participate in the classes, knowing that there were other nationalities present, as this was not expected.

Thanks to its success, Basmeh and Zeitooneh will continue to implement these sessions throughout 2021, using the lessons from the pandemic to improve the responsiveness to remote learning. The curriculum will also be shared with other child protection organisations in Lebanon to improve children’s lives elsewhere in the country.

This work has been vital to give these children the tools to cope with their tumultuous lives and has given them hope for the future. From all of us at International Alert, thank you for your generosity and enduring commitment to peace.


With gratitude,

Ollie James

International Alert

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A student at our centre before lockdown in Lebanon
A student at our centre before lockdown in Lebanon

Dear friends,

I hope you and your family are safe and well.

This year has brought challenges and uncertainty to us all in ways that were impossible to predict one year ago. While COVID-19 has been the focus of our global attention for the past months, it has been just one of the threats facing people in Lebanon. The Beirut explosion and the intensified political crisis that followed have escalated tensions between Lebanese citizens and Syrian and Palestinian refugees which risks damaging the progress International Alert and our colleagues have worked hard to achieve.

However, thanks to your generous contributions this year and the enduring commitment of our local partners, Basmeh & Zeitooneh, we have been able to restart our work after a temporary pause by bringing our Peace Education lessons online for more than 200 Syrian children. Now the children, supervised by their parents, can play with their friends and continue to learn from the safety of their homes. Through online classes, our trained leaders share videos, songs and stories that engage students, emphasize lessons of tolerance and acceptance, and offer a welcome distraction from the challenges of their daily lives. Many children happily participate and their parents are glad for the support our classes provide.

Moving online has made our classes more accessible to families who were not previously able to visit our centre - but it does provide challenges where some families do not have access to a phone or computer. Our group leaders have also had to adjust some of the topics they feature to better suit online forums, and be sensitive to how we communicate differently in the virtual world. . As online teaching is an exciting new approach for our team, we regularly reflect on our methods with our partners to improve the quality and content of classes and to share the lessons we learn from the process with our colleagues in the peacebuilding sector.

Amidst uncertainty, your continued support this year has allowed us to stand by refugees as our work becomes increasingly vital. From all of us at International Alert, thank you for your generosity and enduring commitment to peace.

With gratitude,


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Credit photo: 2019 Givewith LLC
Credit photo: 2019 Givewith LLC

Dear friends,

Over the past months Lebanon has faced many challenges: an economic crisis, widespread protests and political upheaval, and most recently the country has had to grapple with the coronavirus disease. These layers of crises are stirring up tensions between communities which are influencing the prospects for peace in Lebanon. Indeed, we are seeing discrimination against Syrian and Palestinians refugees, misinformation on social media that fuels tensions, and strained public services which have had a severe impact on refugee populations.

With such unrest, we have had to pause our programming for a few months, however our commitment to the cause is stronger than ever. Together with our local partner, we are looking for solutions to get our programming back on track. We are analysing the current situation on the ground and adapting our work in order to make sure that we continue to provide the support Syrian children refugees need so desperately to cope with the trauma they are going through.  

Ahead of the World Refugee Day on Saturday 20 June, we have decided to participate in GlobalGiving’s World Refugee Day campaign to support these children refugees. We also hope to raise awareness on the need to support a population that is too often forgotten and stigmatised, as well as on the importance of building trust between host and refugee communities for long term peace and reconciliation.

It is thanks to your continuous support that we can continue to do our work and stand by refugees in these difficult times.

With gratitude,

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Peace education session_photo credit Givewith
Peace education session_photo credit Givewith

Dear friends,

As you may know, the situation in Lebanon is unstable at the moment. We have had to stop for a short time in October the peace education sessions due to demonstrations in different parts of Lebanon. However, we see that this type of support is even more important under these circumstances. Indeed, these sessions are taking place in the North governorate in one of the most underprivileged and undeserved regions in Lebanon, with severe poverty levels and high numbers of refugees. The programme focused therefore on information the children on what rights they have, as well as developing tools to resolve conflict in a peaceful way. Thanks to them, the children strengthened their self-confidence, highlighted their role in the decision-making process, played an active role within their community, and appeared as individuals who are capable of creating change within their surroundings. We clearly saw the impact and success of these social initiatives: the parents were proud and engaged in all the topics the children addressed.

I wanted to share with you Mohammad’s story to show the small but very important change this project brings at the community level:

Mohammad is an 11-year-old boy, coming from a poor family who has lot of problems. His parents’ relationship is under a lot of strain and this causes tension inside the household and stress for Mohammad. Refugees in Lebanon often face problems in accessing jobs and services, as well as discrimination, which can have a detrimental impact on the family unit. After attending the sessions, the child went to his mother and said:" Mama relax and sit down. Take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale. Close your eyes and imagine good things. You must do this twice a day where it will decrease your nervousness”. Relaxation is a technique that facilitators use in every session and now Mohammad was practicing this with his mother. This technique helped relieve her stress and strengthen positive bonds between family members.   

Once again, thank you all for your support which enables children build peace from the playground up.

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With the recent events in Lebanon, our project and sessions have been halted for 13 days for security reasons and road blockage. Now that the situation is relatively back to normal, the center will reopen and continue to welcome young Syrian refugees affected by war. 

We are trying to continue to keep these centers open in 2020. Integrating mental healthcare and psychosocial support into humanitarian efforts is important and contributes to societies' ability to recover from conflict, rebuild peaceful societies, and prevent future conflict.

A recent World Health Organisation study revealed the effect of violent conflict on people’s mental health is even higher than previously thought. Researchers found that one in five people in post-conflict settings has depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. This makes it extremely challenging to rebuild societies affected by conflict – even after the fighting stops. Time and again we see not only the impact of trauma on the individual, but also on the very fabric of society, in the way people relate to each other, how they solve problems and bring up their children.

As an organisation with over 30 years’ experience building peace after brutal conflicts, we have been pushing for this as a way of investing in societies’ ability to recover from conflict, rebuild peaceful societies, and prevent future conflict.

Indeed, this is what we have been doing in our peace education project in Lebanon – an approach that involves training educators to promote peaceful interaction between children and young people through building respect for diversity, creating safe spaces and providing specialist support for children to deal with trauma, and restoring social support networks.

This approach has been successful in supporting children and young people to resolve tensions through dialogue and listening to others, and to manage and express anger in non-violent ways, thus helping them heal and regain a positive self-identity. This in turn helps lay the foundations for building social cohesion, benefiting individuals and communities alike.

Building peace takes time and patience and a willingness to chip away at the often hidden, psychological, impacts of conflict as well as the physical ones. Examples like our peace education project in Lebanon demonstrates that this can be done, even in the most difficult circumstances.

We thank you very much for continuing to support this important work.

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Organization Information

International Alert

Location: LONDON, England - United Kingdom
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @intalert
Project Leader:
Maria Fiorio
LONDON, England United Kingdom

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