As the Syrian crisis extends into its fifth year, the increasing influx of refugees has put serious strains on Lebanon’s social cohesion, the already precarious economy, and deteriorating security situation. Future Together Now, a project run by the Lebanese Organization for Studies and Training (LOST), in partnership with Forum ZFD aims to establish effective and inclusive local mechanisms for conflict transformation, social inclusion, and joint decision-making between and within host communities and refugees from Syria. This process will happen through the development of a conflict transformation-based community mobilizing mechanism in Hermel, Baalback, Bednayel, and Ein.
In each of the mentioned villages, community activists formed a working group consisting of Lebanese and Syrians. These teams conducted needs assessments and identified the most urgent needs for both communities, which help decrease tensions. In Baalbeck, a theatre in the First Secondary Public School was renovated with a sound system, a projector, a podium, and curtains. In addition, the carpets were rehabilitated. The aim behind these renovations is to create a common place for both Syrians and Lebanese to meet, discuss, and do social activities.
Also, in Hermel, the ambulances of the Red Cross were equipped with a CPR machine, trauma and airways management kit, and more as an attempt to ameliorate the medical services in the city. In Ein, the municipality provided a common hall that could be used to empower the relations between Syrians and Lebanese communities. This platform was equipped with a desk, a desk chair, 3 wooden closets, a sound system, a whiteboard, a flip chart, 2 wooden round tables, 45 leather black chairs, a cooler, a bulletin board, an AC, and carpets. This hall was renovated in partnership with GVC Italia (Gruppo di Volontariato Civile). Finally, in Bednayel, 64 light bulbs were installed in order to increase the sense of security among Lebanese and Syrians. Improving social cohesion in the area is very important and more projects are needed in order to maintain the progress already reached.