Culture

Cycling for Peace: Improving the Environment in Qamishli

Syria

The Cycling For Peace campaign in Qamishli aims to alleviate congestion and improve air quality in an area plagued by slow-moving traffic in recent times.

Sanad for Peacebuilding and Char for Development brought together around 25 people of different ages to participate in a cycling tour of the city of Qamishli in the north of Syria. The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) organised the event on the occasion of “World Bicycle Day”, which is an initiative launched by the United Nations (UN) with the objective of promoting “tolerance, mutual understanding and respect […] and a culture of peace”.

Most of Syria has been engulfed in civil conflict since 2011. Much of the north was embroiled in military battles between Syrian rebels, the regime, ISIS, and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). These battles have fomented communal and political tensions over the past few years. Nevertheless, the expulsion of ISIS by the SDF from the north of the country, where ISIS had its main stronghold in Raqqa city, has fostered an atmosphere of stability and security over the past year or so. Initiatives such as the cycling tour are aimed at rehabilitating communal ties and providing people with healthy activities.

“We have lived very difficult days in this region and we are trying to create a new interactive atmosphere”, noted Mizkin Mahmud, a member of the Sanad for Peacebuilding NGO.

In addition, this campaign was implemented in Qamishli with a view to promoting environmentalist values:

The bicycle is one of the cleanest means of transportation because it is eco-friendly. Moreover, it is simple, affordable, reliable, and helps to navigate easily in light of the traffic crisis in the region. I am happy to participate in this event and hope that this beautiful trend will spread throughout the community”, stated Shinda Akram, one of the participants in the campaign.

Qamishli is currently being governed by the political authorities of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and is under the military protection of the SDF. Locals have expressed fears that their city will again be under the influence of the Syrian regime.