As the Syria crisis enters its seventh year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict marked by unparalleled suffering, destruction and disregard for human life. 13.5 million people require humanitarian assistance, including 4.6 million people in need trapped in besieged and hard-to-reach areas, where they are exposed to grave protection threats. Over half of the population has been forced from their homes, and many people have been displaced multiple times. Children and youth comprise more than half of the displaced, as well as half of those in need of humanitarian assistance. Among conflict-affected communities, life-threatening needs continue to grow. Neighbouring countries have restricted the admission of people fleeing Syria, leaving hundreds of thousands of people stranded in deplorable conditions on their borders. In some cases, these populations are beyond the reach of humanitarian actors.
In the wake of all the devastation that has occurred after the March 2011, nearly one thousand Syrian-led civil society organizations (CSOs) have been formed to respond to the humanitarian catastrophe. While Syrian CSOs have developed skills through on-the-ground experience under extremely difficult conditions, systemic gaps in organizational capacities limit their ability to plan, implement and evaluate programs at international standards and in coordination with other local and international actors. These limitations, if not addressed, will continue to hinder the humanitarian response as well as future post-conflict rebuilding of Syria.
At a 2015 workshop on Strengthening the Role of Syrian Civil Society over 70 humanitarian organizations working inside Syria or in neighboring countries, identified the key challenges they faced as including:
Limited administrative structures
Absence of vision and strategies
Weak accountability and transparency mechanisms
Representatives of local organizations have expressed the need for capacity development programmes on these topics, emphasizing that the most useful trainings are those that are small, tailored to specific organizational needs and focused on mutually-selected topics that will build staff capacity over the long term.
Capacity-building efforts thus far have been ad‑hoc and project-focused, taking into consideration, only the humanitarian needs of the targeted areas and the demands of individual programs. In the process, the specific needs of Syrian CSOs for strengthened capacity, which would enable them to respond effectively, transparently, and in line with international standards have been ignored. This neglect is partially due to lack of understanding of the specific capacity-building needs of these organizations.
Orange strives to fill this critical gap by providing customized capacity development programmes to Syrian CSOs based inside Syria and in Turkey, aiming to build their long-term capacity to respond to the urgent humanitarian crisis and lead the reconstruction of post-conflict Syrian society, while maintaining international standards for monitoring, evaluation, transparency and accountability. Orange trainings are developed specifically for Syrian CSOs based on their needs, as well as the firsthand knowledge of the Orange team of the humanitarian context and areas of implementation.
Orange is looking into expanding its reach to the most affected communities through capacity building programming for both individuals and institutions.
As the crisis has grown protracted, living standards have deteriorated significantly throughout Syria, with varied levels of severity according to the intensity of hostilities. As livelihoods have broken down, millions of people have been thrust into poverty, while recurrent displacement, loss of assets, the impact of unilateral coercive measures, and weakened social protection schemes have further compounded vulnerabilities across the country. This is severely limiting livelihood opportunities for the most vulnerable categories of the Syrian population such as youth, female-headed households and people living with disabilities. Further, an estimated 5.8 million Syrian adolescents and youth, in particular, have been left with minimal opportunities for employment and engagement in society. IDPs returning to areas of origin face difficulties reviving their businesses due to loss or damage of productive assets, among other factors. As people have run out of options, they have increasingly resorted to negative coping mechanisms, exposing women, children, and other vulnerable groups to significant protection risks. Damage to infrastructure and lack of physical and human resources further limit the availability of adequate basic and social support services. This has sometimes led to tensions over access to services and opportunities. The Early Recovery and Livelihood (ERL) Sector now estimates that, within the sector, some 13.8 million people are in need.
In Turkey, Syrian refugees in Turkey are often engaged in informal, irregular and low paid employment, impacting women, youth and children by forcing them into negative coping mechanisms, such as early marriage, often because of limitations to access to education and issues in attendance. Inspite of the the Regulation on Work Permit now allows access for Syrian refugees to formal employment (including seasonal agriculture workers by obtaining a work permit exemption) and the administrative procedure is fairly manageable, the limited availability of employment opportunities, particularly for women, may continue to challenge the required access to jobs for Syrians. In addition, the challenges of job matching and placement continue to be pressing in the agriculture sector, which absorbs the largest share of the labour force in most provinces with high concentration of refugees, including informal labour. The labour supply is currently estimated at 2.4 million (including Syrian refugees), which would reach nearly 2.6 million by 2018. The current labour demand is estimated to be approximately two million, and could further increase to 2.1 million. With an unemployment rate of eight percent, this suggests a need to create around 260,000 jobs between 2016 and 2018. This would be in addition to the jobs that structural economic growth would already create. Livelihoods support has so far primarily focused on communities in border provinces where the concentration of Syrian refugees is the highest. This will continue to be the case under the current plan. Sustainable agriculture and rural livelihood opportunities are needed to mitigate the urban pull factor, risking competition with the most vulnerable local workforce, marginalization and informal labor exploitation.
Based on the above challenges, Orange has been providing a variety of livelihood activities to contribute to ensuring access to basic and essential social services and infrastructure for affected people and institutions, restore disrupted livelihoods for strengthened social protection and positive coping mechanisms of affected people and vulnerable groups and improve livelihoods and living conditions, including better and decent work conditions.
Similarly, 5.82 million children and youth from preschool to secondary school age (in and out of school) are in need of education assistance and an additional 270,000 education personnel. An estimated 1.75 million children and youth (aged 5-17 years) were out of school in the 2015/16 school-year (a 17 per cent decrease from the 2014/15 school-year), and 1.35 million are at risk of dropping out. Nearly 2 million school-age children are displaced, many repeatedly. The total economic loss due to dropout from basic and secondary education is estimated to be around US$11 billion, equivalent to about 18 per cent of the 2010 Syrian gross domestic product. Furthermore, Schools and learning environments are unsafe, overcrowded and under-resourced. One in three schools is damaged, destroyed, inaccessible or used as a collective shelter or for other purposes. This not only puts the lives of children and education staff at risk but reduces the availability of schools and classrooms and wipes out investments made by communities and humanitarian actors. The formal education system has lost a total of 150,000 education personnel, including teachers. Indiscriminate attacks on schools continue to take place, especially in areas affected by hostilities, where many children are in need of psychosocial support, care and protection. A large number of children remain out of school in order to meet household needs. This pushes children into the workplace, early marriage and child recruitment.
In Turkey, education actors seek to ensure that all school-aged children have access to a range of relevant educational opportunities that link to and support enrolment in formal education programmes. Failure to provide educational opportunities for the large number of children and youth not enrolled in education, skills training or higher education will have
serious negative consequences for the long-term development prospects of Syria, opportunities for sustainable social cohesion in Turkey, the ability for young Syrians to be self-reliant and able to contribute to social and economic development. The current level of demand for school enrolment at all levels, including higher education, exceeds the number of places available. This situation requires urgent and innovative ideas for expansion of all forms of relevant educational opportunities.
Orange, building on its experience and presence on the ground aspires to contribute to increase access to formal and non-formal education for children and youth, improve the quality of education, formal and non-formal, and strengthen the capacity of the education systems and communities.
People throughout Syria are exposed to numerous protection concerns. Much of the population in different parts of the country live in daily fear and face protection risks due to the way hostilities are carried out. Proximity to hostilities, displacement, increased poverty, family separation, and lack of civil documentation have been identified as critical factors that increase the protection risks and vulnerability of people in Syria, and pose challenges to the protection environment.
Due to the crisis and its humanitarian impact, Housing, Land and Property (HLP) issues, including security of tenure, have emerged as a critical protection concern, which – along with often related civil documentation gaps – pose immediate and long-term obstacles for the protection environment in Syria.
Grave child rights violations continue unabated, with countless children killed and maimed due to hostilities. Recruitment and use of children, particularly adolescent boys, is perceived to be widespread and is reportedly increasing. Child labour remains a concern, including in its most dangerous and hazardous forms, and is particularly affecting boys. Separation from caregivers is also reported and in some cases leave children without adequate care arrangements. Continuous displacement, exposure to violence, deepening poverty and the persistent lack of access to services and even the most basic necessities, notably in UN declared besieged areas, are taking a huge toll on children and causing multiple deprivations of children’s rights and severe distress.
GBV continues to be prevalent in women and girls’ lives. The length of the crisis, combined with the unequal power structures between men and women is, in some areas, normalizing this violence, particularly domestic violence and child marriage, along with the fear of sexual violence. Distinct forms of sexual exploitation are emerging. Significant challenges remain to ensure that GBV specialized services are widely available and that GBV survivors feel safe to report incidents.
Many areas are contaminated by unexploded hazards of different types and pose a threat to civilians in affected areas, with children, especially boys, at particular risk. It also increases poverty due to lost productive land, and undermines opportunities for recovery. Key infrastructure such as housing, schools, health centres, and water/sanitation systems have been contaminated and will remain unsafe for use. This implies the need for risk education, victim assistance (basic medical and psychosocial) Challenges to the protection remain unchanged. There are sustained gaps in coverage, particularly in areas ranked as most severe areas most affected by violence and with the largest number of displaced. The scale of the breakdown of social services in much of the country means that even in accessible areas, the quality and quantity of services is inadequate to meet the magnitude of needs. Humanitarian access, implementation capacity, and funding remain significant factors impeding the response.
Orange, focuses on the provision of protection services to affected communities, contributing to enhancing the protection of population at risk from consequences of hostilities through tailored protection activities, strengthen the capacity of humanitarian actors and duty bearers, with a focus on national and community-based actors, to assess, analyse, prevent, and respond to protection needs, and for protection survivors to have access to quality specialised services and measures are in place to prevent and reduce risks of protection risks.
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Our activities in Turkey – Urfa during October 2017. Best wishes to