There have been many failures in Syria, and youth need to find solutions to future conflicts, two women helping refugees tell a News-Decoder panel.
Two Middle Eastern women helping Syrian refugees decried the failure of international institutions and governments to end that country’s civil war and exhorted youth to find new solutions to future conflicts in a panel discussion broadcast by News-Decoder.
Lina Sergie Attar, co-founder and CEO of Karam Foundation, and Abeer Seikaly, an award-winning architect and artist, spoke on Monday at a round table hosted by King’s Academy in Jordan.
“Syria has tested the world on a model that has proven itself to be too big and not flexible enough to be able to be useful in a crisis at this scale,” said Attar, calling the United Nations a “big problem” in Syria.
The Karam Foundation brings creative therapy programs to Syrian children and entrepreneurship programs for displaced youth. A Syrian-American, Attar was born in the United States before moving with her family to Aleppo, Syria.
A Jordanian-Canadian, Seikaly won the 2013 Lexus Design Award for designing a tent for refugees that is based on temporary huts of nomadic tribes.
Both Attar and Seikaly studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before returning to the Middle East to help refugees.
The round table was moderated by two King’s Academy students. Rami Rustom is a Syrian-American with family in Aleppo. Sari Samakie was born in Canada and has lived most of his 19 years in Aleppo. He missed three years of school in Syria due to the civil war and at different points was captured by the Syrian regime, kidnapped by one rebel group and held for interrogation by another.
Asked what young people could do in the face of the Syrian conflict, Attar urged youth to educate themselves, organize events at school and help at resettlement agencies in their countries. She said students can go to booksnotbombs.com to support academic scholarships for young Syrian refugees.
Attar and Seikaly said they did not face problems being women working in the Middle East. “I never thought it was a problem to be a working women in the Middle East,” Seikaly said. “On the contrary, it’s actually kind of advantageous.”
Attar said international media exaggerate the importance of Islamic State in Syria. “The majority of the deaths inside Syria have been done by the aerial bombardment on Syria by the Assad regime and its allies,” she said.
The Karam Foundation CEO thanked Germany and Greece for facilitating the relocation of Syrian refugees in Europe. “The European countries that have accepted Syrian refugees, they are going to find very soon, in the next few years that their countries are richer culturally, have a lot more resources, have very, very hard-working people who are there because they want to make it,” she said.
Attar said the United States had done “almost nothing for refugees” and had misplaced fears about the threat from Syrians.
Asked to offer one piece of advice to young people, Seikaly said: “Wear your body armor and just move on. Never give up.”