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Addressing the Threat of Violent Extremism through Highly-Targeted, Female-Specific Online Communications: Lessons Learned from Northeastern Syria and Al-Hol Camp (Alistair Harris, Hedayah, 2020)

This paper addressed the importance and the challenges of reaching women in Fragile and Conflict Affected States (FCAS) with effective Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) messaging. The paper concludes that, when operationalizing the intent to mainstream gender in a highly challenging environment such as Syria, and especially al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, there are critical aspects to consider about the way vulnerable women prefer to communicate. It was an evidence-based, nuanced understanding of the Target Audience that generated the opportunity for an impactful project with the creation of a highly active digital community and the effective promotion of female agency and gender sensitive individual resilience.

It is very easy to list the challenges, but what should be done rather than simply admiring the problem? Taking the lessons from TSN’s broader work in Syria, it is clear the international community and its partners should be working directly in al-Hol to undermine Daesh’s narrative and build resilience among vulnerable individuals in the camp. In order to do this we need to 1) understand the grievances and vulnerabilities and how these affect radicalization pathways; 2) build resilience among vulnerable populations through offering positive alternative pathways and opportunities for building confidence and social support; and 3) undermine Daesh’s narrative of victimhood and suffering through targeted strategic communications as well as providing psychosocial support for women and children whilst enhancing service delivery in the camp.

Interventions elsewhere, online and offline, have demonstrated that targeted P/CVE strategic communication campaigns can reduce the risk of radicalization and recruitment amongst vulnerable women, promote resilience, and inoculate target audiences. There is now an urgent need to take these lessons and apply them to perhaps the single largest concentration of critically vulnerable women and children: the residents of al-Hol camp in Syria.

You can find the original publication here

Topic: Children, Women, Victims of terrorism, Interventions, Narratives and counter-narratives, Strategic communication
Country: Syria
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