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The Importance of Civil Society in the Middle East and North Africa region by Teresa Biscosi

* Teresa Biscosi - Regional Liaison Officer - MENAPPAC & Project Officer - Permanent Peace Movement

For many decades the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been in turmoil. The last years the turbulence increased following the civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, causing devastating effects on human lives, livelihoods and economies. As a result millions of people have fled to countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. In turn, this unrest has fueled violent conflicts between communities in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain.

In this context of upheaval, peacebuilding and conflict prevention are essential for the future of the region. Civil society has worked on many different efforts in the region to progress on human security and to incorporate empowerment and protection measures. Within all this instability, the key stakeholders have been involved in order to promote community dialogues and to reduce violence, prejudices and separation linked to sectarianism.

Civil society organisations in the Middle East and North Africa play a key role for culture of peace in the region, but are faced with many challenges and ever-changing contexts. Our members of the MENA Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (MENAPPAC) work in the region to respond to these challenges with a focus on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. During their last event in December, the members tackled the issues in the region from different perspectives. Firstly, they focused on their advocacy activities on Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation. It is widely accepted that this proliferation is a threat to the security of civilians in many of these countries. The illicit arms trade has increased, as well as the number of injuries and deaths. Raising awareness on these issues is one of the first steps for civil society to reach the local communities and have their support in the fight against the massive smuggling of arms. At the same time, CSOs are working hard to advocate to the gover nments in order to increase the control of arms and seek cooperation on this level... more


 
 
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