Last week PITAPOLICY briefly discussed the need for documenting the #SyriaCrisis by distinguishing between individuals and organizations. We argued that documenting narratives of Syrian civilians as individuals –rather than by political affiliations– is necessary to convey to Syrian outsiders. At the same time, there are some organizational models that try to build from the local leadership of individuals, through local councils, and connect them to other organizations to deliver relief and development services during the Syria Crisis.
The Syrian Forum, registered in Turkey, is an example of a connective model, or “consortium” by working through six specialized institutions to build a free and democratic Syria that is based on the rule of law. They have partnered with Austria and the USA with 10 offices located in Syria, Turkey, Austria, and the United States–and planning on one in Jordan, which is the third largest Syrian refugee host country.
The consortium operates by working through the following sectors:
- Ihsan → @IhsanRD1 →Relief & Development:1) Conducts needs assessment and 2) Monitoring & Evaluation
- Fener → Community Advancement
- Omran → @OmranDirasat → Strategic Studies: 1) conducting public opinion polls and surveys, 2) Research team on military, social, political, and public service tracks to plan for rebuilding.
- Bousla → @Bousla_org →Training and Innovation: 1) Offers Anti-Corruption Training Program
- Rizk → @Rzktr → Professional Development: 1) Conduct vocational job training, 2) Offer Refugee job placement services, 3) Reverse Brain Drain
- Alsouria → @AlSouriaNet → Media: 1) Reporting/Content Development and 2) Professionalism Training
The Syrian Forum Board is chaired Mustafa Sabbagh. Like many other Syrian relief organizations, they coordinate with Syria’s Local Administration Councils and coordinate refugee placement. Unlike many other Syrian organizations–perhaps due to limited resources–SF invests in its staff’s continuing education. Their partners include: The World Food Programme, UNICEF, Human Appeal, ACTED, FAO, Qatar Red Cresecent, OCHA, Save the Children, Expertise FRANCE, Syrian American Medical Society, IOM, Global Communities, Shaam Relief Foundation, Syrian Business Forum, UNFPA, Amici de Bambini, World Vision, GIZ, GAOL,
Regarding its Relief and Development sector, The Syrian Forum has undertaken 273 projects to cover 17,108,941 Syrians’ since 2013. These projects cover services in:
- food security & livelihoods
- water needs and waste management as well as hygiene awareness activities
Training & Professional Development
RIZK operates in Turkey and serves as the professional development institutional arm of SF. Partners include Hope for Syria, Silatech, Iskur, RET, AFAD, SODES, Tumsiad and a few others. As mentioned above, Syria is struggling with brain drain. So Syria’s private sector and civil society institutions struggle with keeping highly educated and technically trained civilians during the 6 years of political and military violence. RIZK tries to reverse brain-drain by “keeping high-caliber Syrians geographically close”, which begs the question: when will this take hold in Lebanon, where waves of university educated Syrians, who fled to Beirut in the beginning of the Syrian Revolution–2011 and 2012–before devolving into war?
RIZK states that it maintains a database of job applications and employment offers. According to their data, they’ve received 22,874 applicants and employed 6,926 Syrians–about one-third of them being female (2,603). RIZK provided offered 16 training courses for 748 trainees.
Al-Souria started in 2014 with a specific purpose: to cover Syrian affairs in a balanced manner that adheres to journalistic ethics, thereby rejecting all forms of extremism. Sections include multi-media infographics on children, women, and violence statistics; book reviews; and how Syria is reviewed in other press. Topics include describing and reviewing the political economy of the regime; the Russian occupation of Syria; Syrian Children in the Adoption Sphere; the Iranian Nuclear Program and Iran’s Role in Syria; and Orientalism’s Role in Syrian political culture and neighboring countries’ revolutions. As a result, Al-Souria news coverage is translated by other foreign news agencies while its page has received over 9 million visits.
PITA POINTS (Observations)
One of the more interesting aspects of The Syrian Forum is that their Relief and Development activities considers the psyscho-social developmental needs of Syrians in crisis. For example, they partner with SAMS to provide counseling. And SF provide safe spaces for women and children through their protection program.
Another interesting, unique aspect is that they focus on economic development while also trying to create a political culture that departs from a historically violent regime headed by an oligarchy.
Finally, we noticed that the Qatar Red Crescent Society works with SF to provide relief and development. However, other Gulf country institutions–like from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman –were noticeably absent.