As the “Geneva II” peace talks in Switzerland ended without a convincing diplomatic solution and the violence in Syria continues, 2014 appears to be a year of deep and threatening uncertainty. RET, like many other organisations, has entered the region. However, the hidden tragedy of Syria is that, in addition to its suffering, it may deprive young Congolese, Afghans or Colombians of essential aid as well. This newsletter aims to illustrate the necessary balance RET seeks to make between this dramatic new crisis and the ongoing tragedies, which have lost the media’s attention.
Indeed, Syrian displaced youth are sadly not the only ones in need of protection. In Somalia a decade-long disaster has displaced 1.1 million people inside the country and almost 1 million have fled abroad. RET has operations in Kenya, which hosts the bulk of Somali refugees, and where finally we are starting to see hopes of return. As you will see through the testimonies of our beneficiaries, while some are eagerly preparing their return, others remain sceptical. We will try to explore why.
Another situation, which should never escape our attention, is to be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The difficulties the country has faced to control its huge territory has left many young people without educational opportunities and vulnerable to a life of violence in local armed groups. RET has been working in the Kivus to demobilise young soldiers in the complex and often misunderstood field of DDR (Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration). In this newsletter we will take the time to explain what this is all about and how it is, at its core, an educational issue.
Crisis can have a completely different face if we go to the other side of the Atlantic. In Colombia, displacement is not only driven by the long-standing internal conflicts and narco-trafficking, but also by the floods, which have struck the country and region at large. Young people there have to learn to face the ever more extreme weather conditions. Youth education as a tool for disaster risk reduction is a field RET is pioneering.
Different region, different threats: in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of international combat troops, a new uncertainty hovers over this already battered country. The Afghan people and youth will be living through elections and the possibility of renewed violence. Nevertheless, education has produced results and, as we will see, RET’s action is bearing fruit and has been recognised by those who matter most: the Afghans.
Besides specific countries and regions we will also look at the big picture. With all these events saturating our understanding of the world, it is almost forgotten that very soon, in 2015, the Millennium Development Goals will have reached their deadline. A new development agenda is therefore being shaped within the international community. What will happen if young people are once again left aside? Another lost decade? On this front, as well, RET is active and you will learn more on how we try to put youth education on the agenda (and how you can help).
Of course, as we enter 2014, Syria is in our hearts and minds as well as part of our plans. Last year, RET has entered both Turkey and Lebanon. With over 2.5 million people already displaced in neighbouring countries and an anticipated 4 million by the end of 2014, Syria’s tragedy has become one of the worst humanitarian crisis of the last decades. However, as we will see, in this regional turmoil with global consequences, solutions are often tailored to local contexts. Reality rarely offers us the comfort of simplicity and uniformity.
2014 is a year of new conflicts, a year of protracted crisis and forgotten suffering, a year for shaping the future of the international agenda, but above all a year in which the bar should be held steady. Priorities should be balanced between the new and the ongoing. Hope cannot be provided to some and denied to others. The articles we have chosen here, hopefully, will reflect this balance and will offer you a global picture of this new year and insights on the solutions which could make a difference.