Faith-based groups hold sectoral meeting in Jordan, calls for urgent action in Syria

Faith-based groups gathered in Amman, Jordan last 30 Aug to 1 Sep 2015 to discuss key issues on development effectiveness including the need for urgent response to the Syrian crisis.

Nineteen faith-based organisations (FBO) from the Middle East and North African (MENA) region of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) examined how to carry out advocacy work on development effectiveness in the region. The conference happened at the same time as millions of Syrian refugees were seeking shelter in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and other neighbouring countries.

ACT Alliance, the lead organisation heading the FBO sector of the CPDE urged participants to focus their support to the millions of refugees who continue to face discrimination and unsustainable conditions in refugee camps. FBOs from the Coptic, Orthodox, Catholic and various protestant faith backgrounds expressed solidarity to the refugees and emphasised the role of civil society organisations in helping the victims of the Syrian crisis.

The two-day event discussed how development effectiveness policies and agreements at the global level could contribute in supporting humanitarian work and maximizing civil society’s impact to the people. Participants also stressed the importance of recognizing civil society as independent development actors citing the 2011 Busan Outcome Document wherein 11 states from the MENA region are signatories.

According to the faith-based groups who participated in the event, CSOs in the MENA region play a crucial role in crisis situations especially in finding ways to communicate and interact with uprooted families, and in securing sustainability through education, the provision of basic health care, mobilizing the youth, women and men in finding constructive activities, including self-employment.

Participants also took note of the support development effectiveness policies and in particular, the Busan Outcome Document can potentially provide for the involvement and protection of CSOs. There were also discussions that this could become one of the objectives for future FBO advocacy work in the region—to remind governments of the Busan Outcome Document and to hold them accountable for their commitments to development effectiveness.

In the interim, conference participants pledged to help fix immediate problems on the ground including sanitary and ecological issues arising in big refugee camps or to broker peaceful relations between refugee and host countries in order to keep the basis for hospitality intact.

The participants are convinced that there is a need for FBOs to work together more closely and more inclusively at the regional level. Experts with years of practice emphasised how in cases of cooperation of FBOs of different denominations and faiths from various walks of life have resulted in effective service delivery especially in humanitarian crises.

At the same time, they underlined the need to make more use of the credibility of the leadership of the different faiths and the work on the ground to build avenues for greater trust and confidence aiming at more lasting settlements of conflicts and peace. There was a unanimous longing of the participants that a just and lasting peace must be brokered urgently.

During the same week, ACT-Alliance launched its newly set-up office in Amman, Jordan. The office is set to strengthen cooperation in the Near and Middle East. ###

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