Aid & Development

Civil society in Raqqa, Syria, tackles extremism among youth


In the city of Raqqa, civil society organisations are holding seminars to teach parents how to deal with extremism among their youth.

In the city of Raqqa, northeastern Syria, a civil society organisation is leading a youth counter-extremism project for children and young adults in the city. The organisation arranges workshops to raise awareness amongst teachers, parents and social workers about the psycho social support they can provide for the children as the city recovers from its ISIS phase.

“We were invited to participate in a seminar on the role of parents in the education process to combat and eliminate violent extremism,” said Mahmoud al-Mabrouk, the Director of the Education and Support Project. “We had a dialogue and freely presented ideas. We were surprised by the dialogue and how everyone was able to express their own opinion. We ask for sessions within the next six months so that the work continues.”

One of the biggest challenges to the rehabilitation efforts in areas of Syria that have been cleared of its ISIS militant presence, such as Raqqa, is the re-education of children and young people who have been profoundly affected by the oppression and brutality of ISIS. Rehabilitation initiatives are in operation across northeastern Syria and northern Iraq, with each initiative building upon an earlier rehabilitation method developed by the United Nations for former child soldiers that fought in the Sierra Leone Civil War. The long term success of the fight against both ISIS and the extremist ideology is dependent on the ability to prevent young people who have previously been indoctrinated from proliferating extremist ideals.

At Ain Issa internal displacement camp, about 55 kilometres north of Raqqa City, a counter extremism workshop, similar to those currently being arranged in Raqqa, had been organised to help parents identify extremism in their children. Many of the children and parents living in Ain Issa were previously residents of Raqqa, but fled the city following ISIS’ onslaught.