29.01.2020

Qalamoun in colour: neighbourhood rehabilitation in Tripoli

In Lebanon, locals and Syrian refugees live together in difficult circumstances. They are settling together in their neighbourhood and are reducing mutual prejudices.

Lebanon is a small country that borders Syria to the north and west. About 4.5 million Lebanese people live here, and there are currently an estimated 1 million Syrian refugees. In northern Lebanon, where the majority of Syrian refugees live, a third of the local population is poor. The area around the coastal city of Tripoli is particularly hard hit: here, 57 per cent of inhabitants live below the poverty line. The metropolitan region is beset by high unemployment rates among both locals and refugees and a weak infrastructure.

In Qalamoun, a suburb of Tripoli, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is implementing an employment initiative to rehabilitate the district together with the local Utopia organisation. Here, additional earning opportunities are created for refugees and locals in need. At the same time, the cohabitation situation involving the two groups is improved. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union are financing the initiative. The services enable people to take up short-term employment and thus receive a direct wage (known as Cash for Work).

The project is called ‘Qalamoun in colour’ because rehabilitation involves repainting buildings and walls. Qalamoun’s local council planned and developed the project together with GIZ and Utopia. Since the beginning of the war in Syria, the population of the small fishing village has grown by a third. Utopia’s selection process ensures that short-term jobs are assigned only to those who really need them. About 60 Lebanese people and a similar number of Syrian refugees are now employed as painters, beach cleaners and in waste disposal. The paintings were designed together by the group as a whole. This has significantly strengthened the sense of community between locals and refugees. The initiative has been so successful that the community, Utopia and GIZ plan to roll it out. The district redevelopment programme has succeeded in bringing together locals and refugees.

Since October 2019, protests have repeatedly flared up in Lebanon. The demonstrations are directed towards the country’s political leaders and the prevailing economic crisis. Despite the challenging security situation, GIZ is still working to achieve peaceful coexistence between the various social groups in Lebanon. This work is helping find sustainable solutions to the country’s complex issues.

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