Discussing the Peace Building supplement and reading between the lines

Photo Credits: Heba Rachrach © UNDP 2016

Given the media’s powerful influence on the public, the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project always organizes informal discussion sessions following the publication of the project’s joint new supplement as an essential part of its activities, having a strong belief in the ability to make a change through media.

Participants in the supplement and invitees gathered on Tuesday December 22nd 2015 in Dawawine Café in Gemmayzeh to discuss the topics and stories of the 10th supplement over friendly coffee and open atmosphere.

The supplement was a bit more focused this time. It tackled various topics yet illegal emigration dominated the articles and the discussion. Due to the current season of migration, discussing it was inevitable.

Darine El Helweh, reporter at Skynews Arabia, who wrote the article entitled “Season of Migration… to Death” in this issue of the supplement, received massive feedback. The discussion session was a chance for Darine to give more details and dive deeper into the stories told in her published material. It was also a great opportunity for participants to read between the lines, and see through the faces of the mentioned desperate Lebanese families and young men from North Lebanon who suffer from bad living conditions and who are joining Syrian refugees on the “boats to death” from Tripoli port, fleeing their miserable conditions, in addition to Syrian immigrants from the Lebanese coast to Europe.

Commenting on Darine El Helweh’s article, Tareq Awwad, a participant in the supplement and founder of “Syria Eyes a team”, said that, this article is an eye-opening material especially that so many articles are currently talking about the competition between Syrians and Lebanese over basic needs.

Then participants created a flow of intense conversation around exploitation of those in need, forced displacement, environmental challenges, politics and art.

Speaking of the impact of the Syrian crisis on the Syrian drama and its repercussion on the Lebanese art-scene and theater, Abido Bacha, theater critic and researcher, explained that he was really intrigued to write about this issue in the supplement. To him, the articles only show one part of the story. He explains that “Syrian plays and drama works have changed so much after the Syrian war. This discussion session helped me reveal more personal experiences and insights related to my article.”

Even though some questions remain unanswered to what could be done to alter the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, participants in the supplement and discussion session helped circulate a new wave of conversation and tackled topics that may be considered as taboos in other media outlets. This is why the free-of-hatred-speech supplement and its respective discussion session prove that behind the headlines, the truth is always as intriguing.

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