UNDP and EU survey peace and reconciliation efforts jointly promoted in the North
While 25 youth from Meshmesh were working in groups to solve a case of conflict during a training session, Mr. Robert Watkins UNDP Resident Representative and Mr. Maciej Madalinski, representing Ambassador Angelina Eichhorst, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, arrived yesterday March 17, 2013 to the premises of the municipality of Meshmesh to participate in one of the closing events in the North under the framework of UNDP’s Strengthening Civil Peace in Lebanon Project funded by the European Union.
The training session brought together youth from Meshmesh and the surrounding regions to sensitize them on concepts of collective memory, war, reconciliation, peace building, conflict transformation through non-violent means and acceptance of the “other”. This activity falls under the initiative “The Bus Takes the Podium: Voyages into Lebanon’s history and its people” implemented by UMAM Documentation and Research which received a grant from UNDP and EU.
“It’s an honor to be here,” said Mr. Watkins explaining that last year “I had the pleasure to commemorate the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War by launching the new Bus initiative”, and today I am here to close it.”
Since April 2012, a mobile bus equipped with UMAM’s archives on the civil war, which include diaries, media coverage, databases of victims and missing persons, as well as pictures, clippings, posters and slogans, has been touring different regions of the country. During the tour, citizens of all ages have been engaged in activities appropriate with the nature of the stops and the age of participants, such as movie screenings, sensitization sessions on peace building, war and memory, and games, among others.
Mr. Madalinski expressed that he is “privileged to take part in this program which brings back memories which are not always pleasant” stressing on the importance of striving not to forget the past and the bitterness of wars.
Both Mr. Watkins and Mr. Madalinski continued their tour in the North and headed next to Al Manar University of Tripoli where they joined 30 university students for a screening and discussion session on identity. With UNDP and EU’s financial support, Search for Common Ground has been organizing awareness-raising screening session, directly linked to the Team, a 13 episodes drama series aired on LBC TV evolving around a football team representing the various communities of Lebanon. It extends the themes of acceptance of the "other" by exposing youth to positive messages and behavior models that foster acceptance, mutual understanding, civic participation and violence reduction.
“We are trying through the episode of The Team which you will watch today, to bring together communities to work on commonalities instead of differences”, said Mr. Watkins, while Mr. Madalinski hoped that this project will give its humble contribution to Lebanon.