Report Calls for Dramatic Change to Rebuild Societies in Conflict Amid Refugee Crisis
The millions of people forced from their homes in the midst of the Middle East’s violent conflicts should be seen for the potential economic benefit they can bring, if the international community is to more effectively address the current crisis in the years to come, according to a report released today by a working group led by the U.S. Institute of Peace as part of an Atlantic Council-led task force.
The report, “Rebuilding Societies: Strategies for Resilience and Recovery in Times of Conflict” (Arabic-language executive summary), is the result of discussion in one of five working groups in the Middle East Strategy Task Force. The task force is an Atlantic Council initiative co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and former U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, who is chairman of USIP’s board of directors.
Manal Omar, USIP’s associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa, and Elie Abouaoun, USIP’s Middle East director, co-convened the working group, which also includes other USIP and Atlantic Council staff among the U.S.-based experts as well as civil society leaders from the region who have successfully guided local-level negotiations to avert further violence.
The report proposes a shift away from the sequencing in crisis response characterized by a “day after” approach to a more innovative, sustainable and efficient effort to rebuild society “fromday one.” The “day one” approach asks what can be done now to plant the seeds for full recovery and social cohesion in societies that are in the midst of protracted conflict, and it provides more sustainable, coherent, and substantive answers to the refugee crisis.
“Radically changing the way in which the international community has been supporting millions of Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan, Yemenis and Palestinians is not only a matter of humanity,” Omar said. “It is good politics.”
The report, written with lead author Béatrice Pouligny, an independent consultant, identifies and provides examples of five key imperatives for the international community, including better responses across borders and supporting people on the ground to direct their own revitalization efforts.
“Helping people move beyond their day-to-day struggle for survival requires a long-term commitment on the part of the international community,” says Omar. “There will be no reconstruction and no development tomorrow if we don’t start investing in people’s resilience now.”