UNIC and AUB hold a two-day panel discussion on the work of NGOs and UN in Lebanon
14 April 2022
The 2022 NGO Fair Forum under titled “NGOs as Frontliners: Challenges and Opportunities.”
In collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut), the Center of Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) organized its annual NGO Forum under the title “NGOs as Frontliners: Challenges and Opportunities.”
This year’s event, which hosted four panels over the 12th and 13th of April, allowed Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and United Nations (UN) agencies in Lebanon to speak about pressing social issues such as women empowerment, social justice, refugees in protracted crisis, mental health, and education. The event, which was held at the Basile Antoine Meguerdiche Conference Hall (IFI Auditorium) at the Issam Fares Institute at AUB, offered the university students the chance to listen to primary community actors and engage with their projects and initiatives.
The panels involved experts from various UN agencies who spoke about topics relevant to their mission and area of expertise. On the first day, Joumana Zabaneh, UN Women Program Management Specialist participated in the panel entitled “Women Empowerment and Social justice”. In her intervention, Zabaneh unpacked the various layers of discrimination and injustice that women in Lebanon incur as a result of outdated social values and laws. She also focused on the topic of “unpaid care” which she presented as a major challenge for women in modern life because her normalized role persists to be centered around care providing.
In a panel entitled “Refugees in Protracted crisis”, Carol El Sayed, Community Based Protection Officer at UNHCR presented some important figures about the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. El Sayed also highlighted UNHCR’s approach to refugees as “partners as much as government and academia are partners because they have their own agency and they can contribute to solutions and preventions.” In her talk, El Sayed emphasized that despite the devastating life conditions of refugees in Lebanon, UNHCR is also aware of the needs of the host community and Lebanese family who are also in need for aid and support.
On mental health, Danielle Inaty, UN Volunteer Programme Assistant, presented the work of WHO on supporting mental health in Lebanon in collaboration with local organizations and highlighted the available resources for learning about this topic. Inaty emphasized that the need for mental health support in the country has been increasing in light of the deteriorating political and economic situation and the aftermath of the 4th of August explosion, which have compromised the well-being of Lebanese population and particularly the youth.
In the panel on education, Marco Pasqualini, UNESCO Education Specialist, presented “transformative education” as a key approach that transforms life by helping young people actively contribute to making the world a better world and to sustainability. “Transformative education, which contributes to fulfilling global goals and establishing education 2030, requires training teachers to be transformative themselves by using alternative teaching methods,” he added.
UNIC Beirut Director Margo Helou commended the efforts of AUB to inform youth and engage them in discussions on pressing issues facing the country. She highlighted the importance of implementing the SDGs as a means to overcome these issues on the long term.
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization