Refugee voices must be at the core of peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction because sustainable solutions can only be achieved when listening to those who have a necessary and substantial role to play in rebuilding their country.
Between February and April 2019, mediatEUr spoke with more than 270 Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon about their experiences, concerns and hopes for the future of Syria.
Discussions were held in focus groups of 12, ensuring balance in gender and socio-economic representation, and explored the refugees’ feelings on the current situation in Syria, their vision for the future, their conditions for a safe return, and what it would take for people to live in peace again. The same topics were also covered in interviews with wealthier Syrians better integrated in their host countries.
The Syrians who mediatEUr met, expressed their wish to create a better society in Syria by drawing on their experiences living abroad while preserving their own culture and traditions. Most refugees would like to see a new form of democratic governance and a constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms, and where human rights are respected and enjoyed equally.
Prospects for reconciliation
There is division, however, when it comes to living together in peace with the ‘other’ parties; some think reconciliation is possible once the situation is stabilised, but others are more sceptical of re-establishing social cohesion upon return.
Returning to Syria at all, however, remains difficult. Lack of trust in the regime, alongside the lack of security, facilities and job opportunities, prevents the large majority from returning home. However, increasing discrimination in refugees’ host countries and growing fears over the erosion of social links with Syria are pushing some to increasingly consider the option.
To view the texts of all perspectives and views gathered as part of the initiative, visit the initiative’s page on the Debategraph platform.
mediatEUr’s work in Lebanon and Jordan was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.
The West Asia and North Africa Foundation (WANA) in Jordan and the Dawaer Foundation in Lebanon supported the organising and facilitating of focus groups and interviews.
The Afaq-Jordan for Development and Training, the Charitable Organisation of East Amman and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees hosted the discussions in Jordan, and the NGO Ishrak, the Nabaa Organization and the Syrian refugees living in the camp in the Bekaa Valley hosted the group discussions in Lebanon.
The Nizami Ganjavi International Centre provided additional travel and logistical support for the Jordan mission.
In 2021, mediatEUr became Conciliation Resources EU/mediatEUr.