Over the past 40 years, Amel has worked to strengthen Lebanese society bonds. Through Amel’s non confessional approach, social cohesion in Lebanon is strengthened by providing services to host communities, and refugees regardless of their nationalities, or religion.

Amel has implemented numerous solidarity campaigns and activities on various causes starting from the early 90’s, focusing, for instance on the solidarity with Palestinian refugees. In practice, Amel had already been working towards strengthening ‘social cohesion’ even before the term was coined and used in the humanitarian sector.

Health awareness sessions gathering women from different communities in 1987

Lebanon is a country with a long history of war, occupation, internal conflict and tension. The socio-economic situation is particularly worrying and has further deteriorated, threatening the social stability of the country.

Due to the Syrian crisis and the large number of displaced persons arriving in Lebanon, Amel Primary Health Care (PHC) centers faced a large increase of patients. This led to notable tensions between the vulnerable Lebanese who had been receiving support from the center for more than 3 decades and the new refugees seeking social services. For instance, patient waiting rooms were a space of tension in the PHCs.

To face those challenges, Amel designed a joint project in partnership with International Alert entitled: Access to Health and Protection as a Tool to Reduce Tensions.

This project focuses on two main objectives:

  • Enhance the centers’ capacity to provide a higher number of medical consultations per month. As a result, in 2018, 4 Mobile Medical Units and 4 PHCs successfully provided 94,800 medical consultations.
  • Disseminate a conflict sensitive approach within professional practices in partnership with a peace-building organization. This component started within Amel’s health department, but was later expanded to other programs such as the protection program working with children ‘in situations of Street .’

With the support of International Alert, Amel has been able to provide strong and continuous capacity building to Amel’s teams, who succeeded in holding dialogue sessions between Syrians and Lebanese in structured cycles.

These sessions have had a positive impact among the different communities, notably due to the fact that Amel and International Alert used health to develop a common ground between the two communities.

For example, the team always starts the first session with a health topic, such as chronic disease or breast cancer. As they progress, the social workers focus less on the health topic, and more on building trust and identifying the common grounds and connectors between both communities.

What is Social Cohesion?

The Social Cohesion is defined as a cohesive society that works toward the wellbeing of all its members and fights exclusion and marginalization, in addition to creating a sense of belonging and promoting trust.

It contains social inclusion, social capital, and social mobility concepts, all together. [i]

[i] http://wikiprogress.org/articles/poverty-development/social-cohesion/