The Future of Syria & Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

On the occasion of the Oriental Landscapes (June 16-23), Global Week for Syria and the International Refugee Day (June 20) The Hague Peace Projects and Music and Beyond Foundation are organizing a two day conference on the Future of Syria on the 19th– 20th of June. The first day will consist of a discussion surrounding the future of Syria; During the morning we will have panel discussions with high level experts involved in the peace negotiations on Syria. This will be followed by various workshops related to different aspects of rebuilding Syria. The second day will be focusing on the integration of newcomers into Dutch society, with our two main topics consisting of economic integration and social/cultural integration. We will bring together those organizations and institutions responsible for integration and the refugee community in order to promote better understanding and cooperation in the integration process.

Day 1: Future of Syria

Since 2011, the Syrian war has forced half of the total Syrian population to leave their homes and more than half a million Syrian have lost their lives. This war has profoundly destabilized the entire region and created a geopolitical standoff between great regional and global powers. Although the development of the war in Syria is uncertain, it is crucial for Syrians as well as the international community to envision a future, which strives for security, justice and peace.

Therefore, the Hague Peace Projects will bring together high- level speakers from Syria and the Netherlands to explore the possible outlines of the future of Syria. There will be a panel discussion in the morning that will also follow the recent changes and the on-going negotiation processes over Syria.

In the afternoon, several workshops will be organised by Syrian activists who are together looking for common ground to contribute to peace building in their country of origin by considering themes on workshops such as: the war economy, transitional justice, empowering women and youth, local governance and strengthening local communities.

Day 1 Monday 19 June: The Future of Syria

09.30 – 10.00
Registration  Coffee/ Tea
10.00 – 12.15
1st Panel Discussion: Future of Syria

Speakers: Rabie Nasser, Bassam Alahmad, Hala Alahmed.
Moderation: Esseline van de Sande

12.15 – 13.15
Lunch break
13.15 – 15.00
Workshop Part 1:
  • Youth Peace Initiative: Role of diaspora in peace building
  • PAX: Building blocks for a future in Syria
  • HIVOS: Women in peace negotiations
15.00 – 15.15
Break
15.15 – 16.45
Workshop: Part 2:

1.      The group Moderators from the workshops discuss the findings of the group in a panel setting.

2.      The floor opens to public.

17.00 – 18.00
Registration for the music event (free for the participants of the conference)
18.00 – 19.00
Lecture (interview with Tony Overwater)
19.00 – 20.00
Food: Syrian Cuisine
20.00 – 22.00
Concert: Salon Joussour – Rohana Overwater Ensemble

Reserve Tickets here for Day 1

Day 2: Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

After the influx of large groups of refugees from different countries in the past few years the national government, municipalities and civil society organizations have proposed many solutions for a smooth integration. Not all of them have shown clearly positive results and some policy measures even create great confusion and uncertainty among permit holders. One of the reasons of this failure could be a lack of consultation of permit holders. Thus, taking into account permit holders ‘ needs, capabilities, aspirations and suggestions for successful integration could be the most fruitful way forward for all of the parties.

Therefore, this event is intended to bring together policy makers and integration specialists from different organizations and municipalities including permit holders in order to discuss the obstacles and solutions towards a successful integration in The Netherlands.

The morning section is reserved for two panel discussions regarding specific aspects of integration, such as the labour market and social-cultural integration, where policy makers, academic and permit holders will share their knowledge and concerns. In the afternoon, permit holders together with local civil society activists will be conducting workshops to find solutions for some of the most pressing integration issues faced currently.

Day 2 Tuesday 20 June: Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

09.30 – 10.00
Registration  Coffee/Tea
10.00 – 12.00
1st Panel discussion: Integration in to the Dutch Labor Market

Speakers: Quirine Veth (workforce.nl), Catrien Smit (Den Haag municipality), Tesseltje de Lange (Amsterdam University), George Kader
Moderation: Mohammed Taha

12.00 – 13:00
Lunch break
13.00 – 15.00
2nd Panel Discussion: Social & Cultural integration

Speakers:  Kees Diepenveen (Wethouder Utrecht), Mirjam Huisman (VluchtelingenWerk) Besan Zarzar (Net in Nederland)
Moderation: Lisanne Boersma

15.00 – 15.15
Proceed to the workshops
15.15 – 16.30
Workshop Part 1
  • Khaled Elhouz and Heba Elebrahim: Education in the Netherland
  • VluchtelingenWerk Nederland: Labor integration
  • Unity in Diversity – Let’s talk Stereotypes
16.30 – 16.45
Break
16.45 – 18.00
Workshop: Part 2:

1.      The moderators from the workshops discuss the findings of the group in a panel setting.

2.      The floor opens to public.

18.30 – 21.00
Concerts

Aura Rascon – bansuri
Jol Alholo – dance
George Kadr – poetry
Ghaeth Almaghoot – clarinet
Nawras Altaky – oud
Sougata Roy Chowdhury – sarod

Reserve Tickets here for day 2

Location: Korzo Theatre, Prinsestraat 42, Den Haag
19 & 20 June

Review of the discussion “An Integration Introduction into the Dutch labour market”

On the 16th march 2017 at 5 o´clock pm the office of The Hague Peace Projects in was filled up with the participants of the panel discussion “An Integration introduction into the Dutch labour market”. As the moderator and coordinator of the Syrian working group of The Hague Peace Projects, Mohammed Taha opened the panel discussion with the goal to discuss the labour market in general and especially the obstacles a refugee might have entering the market. Soon he gave the word to the speakers for their self-introduction.

Michel Slangen was the first speaker, working for the Dutch refugee council (Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland), who introduced the program VIP (Vluchtelingen investeren in pariciperen). It organises training groups for refugees to prepare them for the labour market by writing a CV, train a job interview and connect them with potential employers at the end. In his point of view it is important to send them into the market as confident employees, who know what their strengths are and what they can do.

Mieke van Tilbrug is part of “Corporative Entrepreneurship” based in Eindhoven. She explained that her organisation decided to work in the Netherlands as well because they observed the exclusion of people from the labour market because they are refugees or lived on social benefits for a long time. Actually, they support 20 entrepreneurs. One of them is Ziad Al-Khaled, a Syrian successful entrepreneur who arrive in the Netherlands 3 years ago. He described his arrival and how he succeeded. Nowadays he unites many nationalities under the roof of his company like Turks, Syrians or Iraqi.

The 4th participant of the panel was Mister Saba, the director of the company “Migrant Inc.”. This company is specialised on refugees as future entrepreneurs. The support depends on several criteria like language skills, background, experiences and the ideas of a person. He wants refugees to make their dreams come true by providing a mentor and trainings until an entrepreneur is ready for the market. The company starts working soon with around 15 people and Mister Saba emphasises “that it is important to really understand the needs that the different refugees have.”

The moderator Mohammed asked the first question to the panel and opens the discussion: “Is the municipality of The Hague willing to help and do something for integration?”

Another topic of the discussion were refugees who studied in other countries and need to repeat their education mostly, which is a clear demotivation. In response, the panel clarifies that the integration in the labour market is always a difficult and long process that often starts with voluntary jobs or unpaid internships but everyone points out “Do not lose your mission!” Probably this can be held as the most important message of the event.

During the whole discussion, the languages of English, Dutch and Arabic where used in a wild mixture and several people translated the statements for everyone. The declining sun soused the whole room into golden light and when it gets dark everyone agreed, that the Syrian working group organised a successful, informative event and that everyone can benefit from the received information and new contacts.

Film & Discussion: A Flood in Ba’ath Country

hobran_dam_damA Flood in Ba’ath Country (2003, Omar Amiralay)

In 1970, Omar Amiralay made a short documentary praising the Baath party’s project to build an impressive system of dams, which were subsequently revealed to contain fatal construction flaws. Thirty years later, in A Flood in Baath Country, Amiralay turns that hidden weakness into a potent metaphor for the corroding effects of 35 years of Baathist rule on the people of al-Mashi, a village 400 kilometres northeast of Damascus. As the camera patiently observes students, teachers and local government officials as they recite by rote the exact same praise for the president and slogans glorifying the party, the film coalesces into a devastating indictment of the Baathist regime.

The movie will be with English subtitles.

After the movie we will have a small discussion with some of our Syrian group members. Everyone is welcome!
When: Thursday 16 February
What time: 5 pm – 6:30 pm
Where: Paviljoensgracht 20, Den Haag
Want to bring friends? Invite them here!

7 January: Syrian – Dutch Winter Concert

PKN-Cantorij from Driebergen and some musicians from Syria and Ukraine will perform together in a special winter concert. In the Netherlands we usually celebrate Christmas on 25 and 26 of December but in Eastern Churches they celebrate it 13 days later, that’s why we sing together on the 7th of January. You are welcom to come and listen and to sing along.
No entrance fee, free collection at the end.

Saturday from 3 till 5.
Lukaskerk, Om en Nabij 2, Den Haag

This concert is in collabaroation with:
Mareille Bittar (Syrian singer)
Maryana Golovchenko (Ukranian singer)
(Mohamad Alsamna (singer and arabic Oud player)
Jonas Bisquert (De Vrolijkheid)
Hannibal Saad (Music and Beyond Foundation)
The Hague Peace Projects

 

Integration Caravan is visiting…. Dordrecht!

The Integration Caravan, a project created and organised by our Syrian working group, is visiting Dordrecht on saterday 26th of October. This will be the 5th visit of a city in the Netherlands. Come and visit us at Scheffersplein, between 11 and 3.

We create spaces where community members just like you can meet a refugee and engage in constructive dialogue. Also we give the Dutch people an opportunity to get to know refugee ask important questions such as ‘how is it to start a new life in the Netherlands? what should the refugees learn about our country? And what do we have in common and what can we share?’

We believe that healthy communities are the ones in which its community members can talk to each other despite their different backgrounds. You can hear stories you don’t find in the news papers.

All in all it was a very successful way of talking to people you normally hardly meet and create mutual understanding. Reactions in previsous cities were truly positive. We are very motivated to take this further to Dordrecht. Check our calendar to see where we’re going next time!

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Integration Caravan on its way to Ede!

The Integration Caravan, a project created and organised by our Syrian working group, is visiting Ede on saterday 19th of October. This will be the 4th visit of a city in the Netherlands. Come and visit us at the Oude Kerkplein 2, between 11 and 4.

We create spaces where community members just like you can meet a refugee and engage in constructive dialogue. Also we give the Dutch people an opportunity to get to know refugee ask important questions such as ‘how is it to start a new life in the Netherlands? what should the refugees learn about our country? And what do we have in common and what can we share?’

We believe that healthy communities are the ones in which its community members can talk to each other despite their different backgrounds. You can hear stories you don’t find in the news papers.

All in all it was a very successful way of talking to people you normally hardly meet and create mutual understanding. Reactions in previsous cities were truly positive. We are very motivated to take this further to Ede. Check our calendar to see where we’re going next time!

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8 October: Integration Caravan is coming to The Hague

The Integration Caravan, a project created and organised by our Syrian working group, is visiting The Hague on saterday 8th of October. This will be the kick-of of a tour around the Netherlands.

We create spaces where community members just like you can meet a refugee and engage in constructive dialogue. Also we give the Dutch people an opportunity to get to know refugee ask important questions such as ‘how is it to start a new life in the Netherlands? what should the refugees learn about our country? And what do we have in common and what can we share?’

We believe that healthy communities are the ones in which its community members can talk to each other despite their different backgrounds. You can hear stories you don’t find in the news papers.

 

 

Coming soon: The Integration Caravan

Great news, we have recAll-You-Need-is-Love-caravaneived funding that will enable the Integration Caravan project! The project conceived by HPP’s Syrian working group can be materialised thanks to tireless fundraising efforts and the consequent generous grant given by Wijdoenmee.nu.

Soon, in marketplaces all over the country, the Integration Caravan will set up camp and this group of enthusiastic young Syrian refugees will do their best to connect to their new homeland. By reaching out to local communities, sharing their stories, culture, and hopes and wishes for the future, they are determined to create a dialogue with the wider public. In this way they want to break the ice and overcome any reservations the public feels towards the Syrian newcomers.

Keep an eye on HPP’s Facebook and website for updates on events, locations and how you can contribute.

Refugee Stories from the Past, Present and Perspectives on the Future

On Friday 13 May, a mix of Syrians, Dutch’ and Internationals gathered to start a dialogue with a focus on the integration process of the Syrian community in the Netherlands. Historian Frerik Kampman started off by visualising Syria pre-war, when Syria was well-known as a peaceful country, very open to foreigners. Salim and Anwaar continued with a different perspective, telling their story of their work for international organisations in both Syria and Egypt. Twice they had to leave everything behind and start all over again. They involved the audience with their own experience: how is it to become a refugee, to integrate in a new culture without speaking the language? The second part of the evening consisted of an interactive Q&A session, followed by the group activity ‘what if…?’ Overall, it can be said that it was a truly engaging evening with multiple dimensions.

S12One of the objectives of the journal was to create a better understanding of both the Dutch and Syrian community and how they interrelate. Why not filling the gap and strive to build a future together? Salim and Anwaar, a brave couple that build a relationship during an ongoing war, explained some of the difficulties they faced when building up their new life. Salim emphasised how painful it was to flee from Egypt to Italy. He was not sure if he would survive in the tiny boat. ‘If I die, please call my wife’ is wat he told multiple times during his trip. When he met a refugee-smuggler in Italy, he was shocked by the driver’s attitude. He did not to help him from a humanity perspective, he just wanted to make money, he saw refugees as a product, worth 500 euro. Salim’s wife, Anwaar, elaborated on this story from the moment she was reunited with her husband in the Netherlands: ‘They only look and stare at us’. She explained that she finds it very difficult to engage with the Dutch society. Whenever she tries to invite people over, they don’t show interest. Sometimes, she feels like an alien on a different planet.

Before the interactive part of the evening took place, several statements were made by Syrians in the audience. The statements were honest and touching, some of them included: ‘Losing your family does not mean stop trying’; ‘If we work together we can achieve more and faster’; ‘We are not just refugees, we are also human’; ‘I cannot integrate alone’; ‘First I hated drop, now I like it’. During the Q&A session, the audience was invited to ask question to the Syrian group. The questions reflected a variety of curiosity and concerns. Questions that were raised included: ‘What can the Dutch society do for you?’; ‘What divides the Syrian community?’; and ‘What was your happiest day in the Netherlands?’. The Syrians highlighted that simple things can make life better. A lot of Syrians just want to feel welcome. Therefore, they need a smile, or a friend. For most of the Syrians, peace looks far away now, even though they stay positive. By the same token, Germany was a humanitarian catastrophe a few decades ago, now it is one of the most promising countries with a very tolerant refugee policy.S7

The evening ended with an activity meant to put the audience in the shoes of refugees. Questions were posed to the audience such as: ‘If you left everything behind, what would you miss the most?’ and  ‘What if your land was destroyed, your people displaced and suffering, and you would feel like the wold is ignoring you?’ These questions were very confronting and it was hard to even try to imagine this feeling. However, we would like to invite you, the reader, to think about certain questions as well. May be you can give them the smile they need.

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