Since the war in Syria began in 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the conflict has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 370,000 people, of which 21,000 are minors, and has forced more than 6 million people to travel across the country, and another 4.8 million to register as refugees in neighbouring countries.
Many of these people were already Palestinian refugees in Syria, and have been forced to flee again, which means greater vulnerability and a “start all over again”, with the difficulties it entails, especially given the increasing criminalisation to which they are subjected by the local Lebanese population.
In this context, Nazioarteko Elkartasuna-Solidaridad Internacional (International Solidarity), together with its local partner, the Lebanese PARD NGO- Popular Aid for Relief and Development – for its acronym in English, - has reinforced its presence and work in the area. This alliance, which began in 2006, has been supported by various Basque agencies and institutions committed to Human Rights, such as the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, the town councils of Irún, Zumárraga, Galdakao, Ordizia, Leioa and the General Assembly of Gipuzkoa.
Thanks to these entities, various educational and psychosocial support projects are being developed for Syrian and Palestinian refugee children aged 3-6 years in southern Lebanon. Likewise, a medical and psychosocial support project for adult refugee population in informal settlements in the same area is expected to begin in 2020, with the support of the Basque Cooperation Agency.
To share these experiences, give a first-hand account of the situation in the country and explain how they are working with these groups, Rashid El Mansi, Head of PARD programmes, visited the students on the Master's in International Humanitarian Action (NOHA) on 14 November. This organisation has been working since 1985 on the empowerment of women, environmental issues, and humanitarian aid, focusing their work on the development of opportunities and capacities of the most disadvantaged and marginalised Lebanese communities, as well as on the Palestinian and Syrian refugee population.