Syria conflict: working for peace and mediation at the Turkish border
To improve the integration of Syrian refugees with the local population
As International Diplomacy is gathered in Switzerland in the high-level peace conference for Syria, work on the field to bring aid to the many Syrian refugees pouring into the neighbouring countries is ongoing. Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s International Relief Agency, has set up a community centre for Syrian refugees and the host population in Kilis, Turkey, near the Syrian border, in cooperation with the Turkish humanitarian organisation International Blue Crescent and with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The centre provides conflict transformation trainings for teachers, who then apply the concepts they’ve learned in schools – helping to break the conflict cycle for future generations.
The community centre, opened last November, has already trained 50 teachers on topics such as conflict analysis, mediation and negotiation, and peace education in a humanitarian context. “The trainings have promoted a more open dialogue in the classrooms,” says Oliver Hochedez, Malteser International’s emergency relief coordinator. “The teachers are now better equipped to talk to their students about peace and conflict in Syria.”
The centre also offers language classes in Turkish, English and Arabic as well as computer classes to both the Turkish and Syrian population. “These classes will help improve communication between refugees and hosts, as well as give them useful skills to find a job,” Hochedez says.
Hundreds of refugees dealing with trauma as a result of the conflict have also sought the centre for psychological and social support. “Both children and adults find a peaceful and joyful place at the community centre, where we help them to replace their painful war memories by talking and playing with them, helping them feel safe, comfortable and optimistic about the future,” Hochedez added.
Photo: Kerem Yucel/ Malteser International