Facilitating Social Participation of Palestinian Refugees (FASPAR)

Project description

Title: Facilitating Social Participation of Palestinian Refugees (FASPAR)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon
Lead executing agency: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Overall term: 2014 to 2018

Context

The future of Palestinian refugees remains one of the core unresolved challenges of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Currently there are more than five million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Approximately 1.7 million of them live in refugee camps in the Palestinian Territories (West bank and Gaza), Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Objective

The refugees and their (representation) organisations have gained increased social participation in relevant processes for the improvement of their living conditions.

Approach

Palestinian refugees and the organisations that represent them do not enjoy sufficient social participation in the relevant processes for the improvement of their living conditions. In general, social participation means the equitable inclusion of individuals and organisations in societal decision making processes Since there is barely any scope for the development of constructive proposals, the refugee’s situation is viewed as an almost insoluble problem, and is often a taboo topic both socially and politically.

The FASPAR project promotes the social participation of Palestinian refugees, as a means of developing their prospects of improved living conditions, both individually and as a community. It cooperates with its main strategic partner, UNRWA, to support the refugees’ social participation in three areas:

  1. Within the refugee camps and the refugee community
  2. Between refugees and host societies
  3. In relevant dialogue and mediation processes at national and regional levels

At the local level, the project supports self-help initiatives by Palestinian refugees, particularly women and young people. It does this through human capacity development (HCD) measures and the funding of activities. The refugees can then implement projects inside the camps, which should improve the living conditions there. At the same time, they can represent their interests in refugee committees. The committees also benefit from HCD measures, becoming more effective as central providers of services in the refugee camps in areas such as participatory planning, management, service delivery, conflict management, communication and mediation. The project also provides technical advice for their organisational development.

At the regional level, the project is using further HCD measures, as well as technical and organisational advice, and support for dialogue processes, in order to improve the structural framework for social participation, and to strengthen exchanges between the refugees’ representation organisations, the institutions in the host countries, and UNRWA. By promoting, at the same time, exchanges between the local, regional and national levels, the project is contributing to the improved legitimacy of the representation organisations.

Results

At the individual level, the refugees demonstrate a noticeable increase in the self-esteem, as well as a greater willingness to engage constructively in improving their living conditions. The refugee committees have also responded positively to the initial HCD measures, consisting of 11 separate training events with up to 30 participants each. They now plan their service delivery in a participatory and needs-oriented way, together with the inhabitants of the refugee camps.

Larger non-governmental organisations are now able to play a more active role as multipliers in capacity building for basic initiatives, while smaller NGOs do the same inside the camps and communities. At the same time, the first networks between refugees and non-refugees have been established. Nearly 700 people now see themselves as a part of these exchanges, with weekly meetings, workshops and public events taking place with political decision makers.

At regional and national levels, the project’s advisory services on behalf of UNRWA, have encouraged wider acceptance of social participation on the part of the refugee (representation) organisations as well as those representing the host countries.