Overcoming the consequences of war together

 

Civil conflict resolution in Ukraine and other East European conflict areas

The ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine poses increasing challenges to Ukrainian society. In addition to the direct events of the war – such as the deplorable number of dead and wounded, torture and displacement – the long-term consequences of the conflict are becoming increasingly visible.

The consequences of war: trauma, domestic violence and social tensions

A significant proportion of the Ukrainian population is being traumatised through direct or indirect contact with the events of the war. There is increasing evidence of domestic violence, extending across all social levels. Social tensions are arising between internally displaced persons and the local host communities; war returnees need to be reintegrated into society. The fact that much of the Ukrainian population is being affected directly or indirectly by the conflict is giving rise to new social tensions. Internally displaced persons as well as those involved in the war and their family members are increasingly experiencing discrimination. These consequences of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine pose the risk of manifold potential for new conflict.

Civil society in Ukraine is currently the central social driving force endeavouring to effectively counter these many problems and conflicts. NGOs, initiatives and activists are providing the support which is so desperately needed for those affected by war and violence. They are the ones distributing humanitarian aid, evacuating people from the war zone, helping internally displaced persons in the search for housing and jobs and initiating dialogue to resolve the social conflicts mentioned above. The trauma therapy services offered free of charge to the population are attributable to the voluntary commitment of psychologists, although not all of them possess the urgently needed training. As a result of the continuing strain on civil society over the last two years, there is also evidence of an increasing risk of burn-out which, among other factors, has unfortunately led to a significant reduction in the level of voluntary commitment.  

These problems, which are a highly topical issue in Ukraine, can also be found in other current or former conflict areas in the region. Civil society organisations in Georgia, Armenia and the North Caucasus are familiar with the problems and social tensions resulting from the lack of integration of internally displaced persons and refugees or with war-related domestic violence. These countries have developed their own effective approaches, as Ukraine has since done, and therefore have specific experience and expertise in post-conflict rehabilitation.

Project goals

Support for civil society in the peace process

Based on the findings mentioned before, the project’s aim is to promote the peace process and dialogue in Ukraine by supporting civil society in its management of the social conflicts resulting from the war in Eastern Ukraine, with the goal to avoid further conflict and contribute towards a long-term peace process.

Regional interchange of experience and know-how in conflict management

In order to strengthen the ability of Ukrainian civil society with regard to conflict management, its actors are receiving know-how and expertise from other Eastern European (post)war zones. At the same time, the networking between civil societies from Armenia, Georgia, the Russian North Caucasus and Ukraine is being extended and reinforced. The interchange of technical expertise and transfer of experience in conflict management, dialogue and peace-building enable these societies to find long-term, common solutions contributing towards a stabilisation of the region over the long-term.

The basic pillars

The project’s work is based on the following basic principles:

  • Transfer of international and interdisciplinary experience and know-how in civic conflict resolution
  • Education and further training of multipliers in Ukrainian civil society
  • Immediate implementation of new knowledge and methods in practice
  • Integration and establishment of a long-term NGO network for regional conflict management and peace work in Eastern Europe

The project is being implemented by the German-Russian Exchange (DRA) in cooperation with its main partner “Kraina vilnych ludey” and six other partners from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Germany from August 2016 to October 2018. It is a continuation of the peace building and conflict transformation work, the DRA has begun in 2014 in Ukraine and which is constantly being developed in cooperation with its multinational network of NGO partners. 

Project activities

Dealing with war-related trauma

  • Supervision training for trauma therapists, conducted in cooperation with the Berlin-based “Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer” (bzfo) [Treatment centre for victims of torture]
  • Tendering for and promotion of two Ukraine-wide information campaigns to counteract the stigmatisation of psychotherapeutic services and to increase the number of trauma cases receiving treatment
  • International conference on “Trauma therapy in (post)conflict regions”

Combat domestic violence as a consequence of war

  • Training of male multipliers to mobilise men for the prevention of war-related domestic violence
  • Support for up to ten mini projects on campaigning against war-related domestic violence
  • Implementation of an international round table on effective options for the prevention of and dealing with domestic violence as a consequence of war

Dialogue and peace work through Forum theatre

  • Training courses for civil society actors on dialogue and mediation through the Forum theatre method
  • Tendering for and financing of five mini projects on dialogue and mediation through Forum theatre
  • Publication of a trilingual book on “Forum theatre in post-conflict rehabilitation and prevention”
  • Organisation of an international festival on “Forum Theatre as an effective method of post-conflict rehabilitation and prevention”

Coping with conflict-related discrimination

  • Training for civil society trainers and advisers in how to reduce and prevent conflict-related discrimination
  • Tendering for and financing of five mini projects on reducing and preventing conflict-related discrimination in Ukrainian society
  • Publication of a trilingual book of methods on the prevention of discrimination in conflict regions

Integration of internally displaced persons

  • Three study trips on “Effective strategies for the integration of internally displaced persons and refugees” for Ukrainian, Russian, Georgian and Armenian activists in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia
  • Publication of a brochure in four languages on successful projects for the integration of internally displaced persons and refugees within Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Russia

Promotion of social enterprise

  • Training of civil society actors in “Social enterprise as an effective instrument of post-conflict rehabilitation”
  • Support for the start-up of four social enterprises by trained multipliers
  • Tendering for and promotion of two supra-regional information campaigns on “Social enterprise as an effective possible course of action in socio-economic post-conflict rehabilitation”
  • Transfer of know-how and experience at an international conference on “Social enterprise as a possible course of action for civil society actors in coping with and preventing socio economic conflicts”

Project partners

The DRA is conducting the project in cooperation with its main Ukrainian partner, the NGO “Land of free people” based in Kramatorsk and Lviv.

Furthermore the following partner organisations are involved in the project: “Our Future” in Saporozhiye,  Caritas Armenia, the “Sukhumi” Foundation in Georgia, the East Europe Foundation in Kyiv, and ChildFund Germany.

In addition we are working on specific topics with the “Zentrum Überleben” (Centre “Survive”), “Treatment Centre for Victims of Torture”, “Perspektivwechsel Plus” from Berlin and the Berlin Institute for Conflict Transformation and Dialogue “re-flow”.

The project is being funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

For more information visit our project website.

 

Maria Slesazeck
Project Manager
maria.slesazeck@austausch.org