When the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, the most distinguished theme observers could see was the youth’s domination in participation in the country’s civil movement. However, as the militarization unfolded in the subsequent years, they were marginalized significantly and lacked the platform they yearned to take part in the social changing movement. Since the Assad regime brutally suppressed peaceful demonstrations led primarily by youth. Over 500,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian revolution in 2011.
The Baath brain poisoning policy
According to the United nation population Fund (UNFPA), young people in Syria, aged 10-24 represent 36.3 percent of the total population, and youth aged 15-24 constitute 22.2 percent. Overall, there was a lack of adequate and practically satisfactory representation for Syrians in local authorities and syndicates as most of these were controlled by people affiliated to the Baath narrow circle. While (THE BAATH VANGUARDS ORGANIZATION) & (REVOLUTION YOUTH UNION) which are organizations related directly to the Ba’ath party, had all the power to spread the Ba’ath ideology among the children and youth even in schools. Joining these organizations was mandatory in Alassad’s school, Besides, the association of Youth and Sport was established, ostensibly to support youth and adolescents in Syria and help them to magnify their contribution in the society, however, this corpus was, alike most Syrian governmental bodies, corrupted and used by the regime as a tool to organize the state’s strategies to contain ideologically the growing educated youth population in the country.
The regime has always been utilizing youth and abducting their future throughout Al Ba’ath governmental bodies, instead of amplifying their voice and enhancing their contribution to society.” Ahmed said,Ahmad Alnouri – Project Manager – Kesh Malek Orgnaization
Ahmed Alnouri, a project manager of Kesh Malek, an organization based in the Turkish city of Gaziantep that also operates a series of projects in northern Syria hopes and works to change this.
“Syrians are under a severe deterioration of freedom. They have lost all hope and the concept of ‘citizenship’ has utterly vanished,” he said
While the constant military attacks against northern Syria jeopardize each effort to recover from the war; civil society continues their endeavors to grapple the crucial circumstances and facilitate their work on the ground. Kesh Malek’s official explains that since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, youths’ purpose has always been grappling for authentic implementation for the concepts of freedom, democracy, citizenship, and equity of participation in the national and local sphere. The negative distorting influence of weapons and deterioration of the economy exposed Syria’s young generation to child labor, armed recruitment, and early marriage. Ahmed explained that to contain these tragic outcomes, a long-term systematic intervention needs to be implemented.
While the constant military attacks against northern Syria jeopardize each effort to recover from the war; civil society continues their endeavors to grapple the crucial circumstances and facilitate their work on the ground.
Civil society: between adequately planning and risk assessment
The main focus of most non-governmental organizations is to provide basic services; nonetheless, our purpose is beyond daily needs, it aims to build-up Syria’s future actors, investing to produce more Syrian active youth citizens. Ahmed explains that the vast majority of Syrians have been left without equal and sufficient representation in the decision-making process, especially marginalized groups like the youth, women, and internally displaced people.
“In order to incorporate youths and transfer them to an active citizen in society, our policies’ compass needs to be changed, in the larger NGOs sphere, to its main mission and vision towards equality of opportunities and inclusion of all segments of the Syrian society,” he saidAhmad Alnouri – Project Manager – Kesh Malek Orgnaizatio
In 2018, Kesh Malek launched a Youth Citizen Club in northern Syria with aims to amplify the voices of the youth and help motivate them to be more involved in public life inside Syria. Kesh Malek’s long term vision is to work with enthusiastic young individuals who are eager to lead change initiatives in their communities, while also supporting those who lack opportunities to help them express themselves and unleash their potential to lead their communities and become actively engaged in the social change movement.
Campaign lead by Youth Citizen Club champions
Omar Mansour, a 19-year-old youth team leader at the Orem Al-Kubra Kesh Malek’s center, where the Youth Citizen Club members (YCC) were gathering and participating in the training. Since its establishment, Omar has participated in multiple workshops about many topics such as advocacy, women’s rights, gender equality, children recruitment, special needs rights, and social communication skills.
“Such initiatives are rare and integral for the future of Syrian after the war,” he said, “I was thrilled to have the opportunity to open my eyes on different horizons and seek knowledge that would, in essence, help my community, and I wouldn’t have known anywhere else.”
“Such initiatives are rare and integral for the future of Syrian after the war,”Omar Mansour – Youth team leader – Youth citizens’ club
Following the training, youth-led many advocacy campaigns focusing on social problems like girls’ education, human rights, women participation in civil life.
“We visited local stockholders in the village of Orem and spoke to families to discuss what we want to change and to help in improving the society we live in.”
“I took part with the group of YCC in my village in multiple campaigns, one of them was devoted to illustrate and tackle the misconception and society ill-treatment of special needs,” Omar said
Ahmed explains the structure of Kesh Malek’s initiative, which starts with building the youth’s capacity in advocacy and community mobilization to then conducting several volunteer activities and campaigns.
“We facilitated a series of meetings between the YCC representatives and all stakeholders in the Orem region (where the YCC is based) including speaking to NGOs workers and activists. We witnessed a positive outcome, where people took part in the public sessions held in the town, with a lot of interaction by the elders of the community.”
Aspiration for expansions and challenges to carry on
Kesh Malek sees that youths’ role is as supreme in this period of Syria, therefore it is vital to raise their capacity to become socially active citizens. It facilitates with its capacity the required means to magnify their skills and inclusion in civil life and social change.
However, the security instability in the north has become a major challenge as well as the dramatic drain in funds from major donors and will significantly drain the youth beneficiaries as a resultAhmad Alnouri – Project Manager – Kesh Malek Orgnaization
“Keeping youths marginalized, unsupported and unrepresented will derogate Syria’s future in both the short-term and long-term recovery process to which must be prevented by our efforts in the civil society.”