EU Establishes Project to Integrate Middle Eastern Youth
The ‘Better Together’ project aims to create social cohesion between young people from Syria, Lebanon and PalestineSeptember 16th, 2016
Poverty, bad living conditions and lack of prospects for development are favorable conditions for extremism. The Middle East, currently strongly affected by numerous conflicts, is a region threatened by the influence of violent ideologies.
For this reason, the European Commission has created ‘Combating Violent Extremism’ (CVE), a platform for cooperation programs including ‘Better Together’; one of four initiatives for social development in Africa and the Middle East.
The program, initiated by ‘Search for Common Ground’, targets youths aged between 15 and 25. It begins with a six-day summer camp around North Beqaa or South Lebanon, where participants share living spaces and cook and clean together to create first bonds. Once they get to know each other, they are invited to take part in a storytelling process led by Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese artists.
“They produce a play, write a song, shoot a documentary, design a comic book, and all of this portrays their stories,” explains Elisa Dari, Director for Lebanon at Search for Common Ground. She highlights the importance of stimulating a dialogue between people of different nationalities and cultures.
Despite the youths having different histories and backgrounds, thanks to the project they are able to recognize that there are many similarities that bind them. As a result, the young people can overcome their similar problems and challenges by joining forces and working together.
“Any project that engages youth and provides a voice, a space they can influence their situation in their societies, inherently helps prevent radicalization of communities, or at least gives an alternative to the attractiveness of extremist groups,” says Dari.
So far 320 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian youths have taken part in the ‘Better Together” project. The organizers say they would like to stay in regular contact with former participants