Lebanon + 1 more

Social Cohesion and Intergroup Relations: Syrian Refugees and Lebanese Nationals in the Bekaa and Akkar

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Context:

Social Cohesion: The influx of over a million Syrian refugees has severely strained the socio-economic fabric and infrastructure of Lebanon, especially as most refugees settled in some of the poorest areas (e.g. the Bekaa and Akkar – UNHCR 2013, 2014). Tensions between Syrian Refugees and Lebanese nationals competing for the same resources and services are at a breaking point. Multiple social cohesion and community support initiatives were implemented to improve intercommunity relations, and this report focuses on Save the Children’s Casual Labor Initiative (CLI) and its impact on intercommunity social cohesion.

The Casual Labor Initiative engaged over 8000 Syrian Refugees and Lebanese nationals between November 2013 and January 2014, to collaboratively carry out public works in both Informal Tented Settlements (ITS) and surrounding host communities in 10 locations in Akkar and 30 locations in the Bekaa. The work was paid and lasted for ten days over a period of one month. The works consisted of improvements to the community infrastructure and environment, including site improvements in ITS.

Objectives:

The aims of our research were to 1) evaluate the CLI project design and implementation, and assess its impact on intercommunity perceptions and 2) assess social cohesion in Akkar and the Bekaa, in the locations that benefited from the CLI. Specifically, we assessed an array of socio-political indicators of emerging conflict (e.g. threat perceptions, contact quantity and quality, readiness for violence) and identified locations of potential concern (mapping). We also assessed the levels of support for violent forms of collective action targeting Lebanese nationals, Syrian refugees, Lebanese authorities, and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs).