Sports for Peace and Development

No Safe Place to Play

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, over 1.3 million Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon. They joined an existing Palestinian refugee population numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and have contributed to a refugee-to-host population that is now the highest in the world.

The needs of the newly-arrived refugees have only added to Lebanon’s long-term political and economic instability and have revived tensions and historic friction between Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians. As these groups compete for space, resources, and employment, the tension increases.

An ANERA assessment revealed that youth are the main victims of the ongoing crisis and are at risk of long-term economic and educational disenfranchisement. They also increasingly resort to violence and are vulnerable to recruitment from gangs and violent groups. In Palestine as well, youth need an outlet to cope with the many hardships they face. Their communities lack recreational facilities that allow young people to interact with one another, develop social skills of tolerance, or just have fun.

Using Sports to Teach Life Skills

For many years, ANERA has integrated sports for peace and development into its youth programs in Palestinian refugee camps as a fun way to teach life skills while providing recreation for youth living under tense and challenging circumstances.

In partnership with UNICEF, ANERA has expanded its existing sports programming as part of a larger non-formal education program for refugee youth. ANERA uses local football clubs and other sports activities to teach conflict-management and life skills as well as health and hygiene education to marginalized youth.

Sport promotes understanding and peaceful coexistence among Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian communities.

ANERA offers sports courses, community sports days and tournaments for youth, aged 14-24, in partnership with 100+ local organizations. The program offers 10 types of sports courses, including basketball, football, yoga, swimming and aerobics for both boys and girls. Community culture is taken into consideration through mixed-gender and segregated activities. We also build and renovate sports facilities used by entire communities, including younger children.

How It Works

  • Training Coaches

    Coaches learn to be agents of social change, teaching youths about conflict mediation, teamwork, leadership and empowerment.

  • Bringing Communities Together

    Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian youth engage in integrated sports activities, tournaments and events, promoting positive cross-cultural and community engagement.

  • Building Confidence

    Through improving their sports skills and self-image, youths feel better about themselves.

  • Involving Girls

    Young women and girls get an opportunity to interact with their peers, learn skills and feel empowered in new ways.

  • Building Safe Spaces

    New or renovated fields, courts and recreational buildings are safe spaces for youths to play and interact.

IN THE NEWS

A news report on Palestine TV about the first in series of sports tournaments near Tripoli, Lebanon, where tensions between communities runs high.