The unrest that began in 2011 has resulted in the loss of thousands of Syrian lives, displaced millions of people internally, and caused a flight of millions more to neighboring countries and beyond. The economy has been devastated and the social cohesion Syrians once took pride in has been imperiled by fear, resentment, and distrust.
We recognize that the situation of social cohesion varies from town to town and that the various perspectives about conflict, all of which are valid, are based on each community’s experience with violence and repression. Stereotyping and demonizing of ‘the other’ have been manifested in the local Syrian language, with new terms now being used in everyday life that are increasing polarization and insecurity.
While conflict is a natural fact of life that is inherent and inevitable, it is how we deal with conflict that can lead to either positive or negative outcomes. We are working together to reinforce our Syrian values and traditions, to create new mechanisms based on those values, so that future responses to conflict do not lead to violence. Recognizing that Syria’s prosperity and development is contingent on peace requires that Syrians take ownership of the reconciliation process.
Recognizing the power of our youth and the role they will have in influencing Syria’s future is of utmost importance. Securing Syria’s future requires the empowerment of our youth to be facilitators of peace in their communities and active agents for reconciliation.