The Syrian refugees in Lebanon must be included in the development agenda and not just helped with humanitarian efforts. Peace and integration are a prerequisite for long-term development, writes Maddi Maxwell Hart from a Lebanese youth organization.
It is in recent months that the Western world has noticed the blurred and complex borders created as a result of globalization. The consequences of people living in poverty and for a constant struggle in increasingly unstable societies can be expressed in the Western world as desperate individuals, young and old, poor and rich. More and more people are choosing to leave everything behind to make the dangerous journey a safer place.
I would like to emphasize that I do not fully agree that it is possible to divide countries into terms of 'developed' and 'underdeveloped', given the underlying economic assumptions about what is meant by the term 'developed'. Development is not only related to the economic welfare of a state but can also be linked to how far a country has come in matters concerning socio-economic differences and discrimination.
In any case, I will use the terms "developed" and "underdeveloped" in this article to facilitate reading and comprehension. The underdeveloped countries should not only be seen as economically underdeveloped but also underdeveloped in terms of the state's ability to protect its people and safeguard fundamental human rights.
It is important to focus on conflict resolution
The efforts of governments and international organizations to safeguard human rights and protect local people should, of course, be recognized. But financing projects in other countries without knowing what the situation looks like is not always the most efficient or productive. Most efforts in Syria focus on projects targeting vulnerable groups rather than conflict resolution. Conflict resolution is at least as important.
Despite the project fatigue felt in the Syrian crisis, efforts should be made to support projects that promote dialogue, conflict resolution and social cohesion. These are some of the most important tools needed to create an environment of social stability.
The five-year Syrian crisis is much more than just a humanitarian crisis. Although there is still a great need to provide emergency assistance to refugees in Lebanon, we also need to meet more long-term needs. The Syrian refugees in Lebanon must be seen as a group that will remain, even in the long run. They must therefore be involved in the development agenda.
Groups must meet
When it comes to humanitarian aid operations, they must be based on the real needs of the communities. Take, for example, one of the communities on the Lebanese-Syrian border that houses a number of refugees, twice the size of the entire Lebanese population. When societies receive efforts that only target refugees, the host society becomes even more vulnerable and vulnerable. This situation contributes to creating tensions and violence - and misunderstandings.
By targeting refugees only, organizations miss the opportunity to create forums for interaction between refugees and the host population. Refugees and the host population must start talking to each other to understand each other. The understanding can in turn lead to the groups meeting and working together and that conflicts and prejudices are counteracted.
However, it is important to have local knowledge. Local grassroots organizations are key players who are at the forefront of what methods are suitable for creating development for everyone. Partnerships between grassroots organizations with local knowledge, international organizations and funding bodies should be promoted to give the best results.
No development without peace
A wise and experienced colleague once said the following to me: "There can be no development if there is no peace." I really agree. However, this means that we must question the interest and actions of developed states towards less developed states. The efforts of the United States and Europe in the Middle East have many times been contradictory. For example, there is a contradiction between the military efforts that, in my opinion, only consolidated violence and fighting, and the focus of humanitarian aid on peace promotion and development.
We should be critical of the interplay between governmental and non-governmental organizations and take the time to explore peaceful and holistic methods of development. Without efforts for international solidarity - where the north meets the south on equal terms - there will be no improvement in the current situation.
Maddie Maxwell Hart