Dear Reader, welcome to the October 2014 edition of International’s Global Newsletter. Undoubtedly, the need and volume of humanitarian activity has been unprecedented during the last six months around the world. So much so, that with each day that passes, with conflicts growing, in magnitude and frequency, the premise of our previous edition may seem a bit innocent. Indeed, we argued that in these troubled times priorities should be balanced between the Syrian crisis and other on-going tragedies, which have lost the media’s attention. We declared that we would stay on course by responding to new needs, while remaining dedicated to the regions we are already in. So, is this possible? And if it is, how have we fared so far?
The Syrian crisis is ubiquitous. The sheer amount of displacement and suffering makes it impossible to look away. RET International therefore opened its programme in Lebanon to assist one of Syria’s most affected neighbours. We understand that this crisis will entail fragility for years to come. Patching up a few gaps and holding on until an illusive return to normality is simply not an option. As we will see, RET International’s approach is thus to bridge the gaps between displaced and local youth.
However, as we remarked above, Syria has not diverted our attention from other crises.
Of great concern in our last edition was the Somali internal conflict. We highlighted the hopes and fears of Somali refugees in Kenya as their return home becomes possible. However, there are always multiple sides to a story. Today we will therefore take you to Somalia to explore the situation of the Somali youth who stayed in the country throughout the conflict.
Still in Africa, the article on DRC will explain how our team turns obstacles into opportunities in our ongoing Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration programme.
In Latin America we previously discussed the efficiency of youth education as a tool for Disaster Risk Reduction in Colombia. Here we will remain in Colombia, but explore how we collaborate with the Ministry of Education to strengthen the capacity of the country’s educational institutions. A second article will then take a broader perspective and present our impact in the region as a whole.
In our last edition we also reviewed our action in Afghanistan and underlined the importance of global awareness-raising. The article we present here on the 2014 UNHCR NGO Consultations brings our work in Afghanistan and our commitment to awareness-raising together with the performance of one of our RET youth ambassadors.
Throughout all these articles we wish to show that it is possible to respond to the immense needs in Syria, while staying committed to other less visible crises or “forgotten” crises. We strongly feel that this is made possible by our specific approach.
RET International has indeed a very special mandate. Working with young people through the medium of education, whether formal or non-formal, provides the ideal transition from interventions in emergencies to those in the development sector. This is because young people can be positive actors during a crisis, while becoming agents of positive change, also representing the future of their communities. Education of youth, is a perfect tool for protection, as well as, for development.
This capacity to bridge the gaps between humanitarian action and development aid allows us to be extremely adaptable and find tailor-made solutions for different crises at different stages. RET International was created to “bridge the gaps” for education of youth, affected by displacement, political conflict, violence, and natural disasters. And today, we are able to achieve this in fifteen countries around the world, with over 700,000 youth participating in our programmes since inception. RET International remains present in those “older” crises, and areas that may seem “forgotten”, while investing in those that are newer, such as in Lebanon and more recently, in Turkey.