From the ruins of Damascus to Europe: An evening on displacement, hope and support

On December 8th the GIZ Representation Brussels welcomed three interesting guests to a conversation on migration and displacement accompanied by a piano concert with Aeham Ahmad. The Palestinian-Syrian pianist rose to international fame as ‘pianist in the ruins’ with his public performances in war-torn Syria. He risked his life by playing his piano in the bombed-out streets of his neighbourhood of Yarmouk, a refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, to transmit a little hope and joy. In spring 2015, due to the ban imposed on music, the Islamic State burned his instrument in front of his eyes. Ahmad was forced to flee from Syria via the Western Balkan route to Europe, where he continues to play the piano in protest against war and for hope and peace.

During his first visit in Brussels, Aeham Ahmad shared his music and his story with about 80 guests at GIZ, which was not just interesting but also emotional and impressive. Siegfried Leffler, Director of the GIZ Representation Brussels, talked with him about the power and impact of music, his experiences and messages. Asked if he thinks of himself as a courageous man, Aeham just answered, that he sometimes still cannot believe that he is allowed to use his talent and passion for bringing important topics back on the agenda and that he is very thankful for that.

Nadim Karkutli (European Commission, DG NEAR) and Günther Taube, Programme Director at GIZ, also shared their experiences of displacement and hope as part of the event, giving insights into European activities to support refugees and host communities especially in countries neighbouring Syria. Karkutli is the Manager of the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (the so-called ‘Madad Fund‘), Taube is the Programme Director of ‘Qudra’ (arabic for strength, capacity or ability), which is funded by the EU Madad Trust Fund and the German Government. Since this year, the programme has been supporting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan and strengthening host communities in those countries, for example by renovating schools and improving infrastructure for adequate sports and playground facilities, by advising communities and offering training measures and vocational training especially for women and young adults.

                                                        
Aeham Ahmad played in Yarmouk... Photo: Niraz Saied
                                                        
...and in Brussels. All event pictures: GIZ
                                                        
Around 80 guests joined the evening...
                                                        
...for conversations with Aeham Ahmad, Günther Taube (GIZ) and Nadim Karkutli (European Commission) (from left to right)
                                                        
Talk between Siegfried Leffler (GIZ Representation Brussles) and Aeham Ahmad.