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N°35 // April 2017


Present in Iraq since 2013, TGH is expanding its presence in the region by settling in Lebanon and Syria

Few of us remember what they were doing when the conflicts began in Iraq (2003) or in Syria (2011). Yet we are all familiar with the arguments - that we have sometimes used ourselves - on the advisability of intervening or not interfering, or on the attitude to be adopted or not in the face of unprecedented migratory flows.

Twelve million refugees or displaced people, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and it is not even possible to give an accurate figure... the sentence of the figures is clear: the Iraqi issue, and the Syrian issue probably even more, will be part of the life of each of us in the ten, fifteen or perhaps twenty coming years, whatever the nature or extent of our involvement.

As a professional actor of international solidarity, TGH is increasingly mobilized in the Middle East conflicts. First present in Iraqi Kurdistan, then in northeastern Iraq in response to the emergency situation arisen from the fighting around Mosul, TGH is now expanding its presence in the region by settling in Lebanon and Syria, where the NGO hopes to be allowed to work very soon.

Keiko Cornale (Iraq) and Serge Gruel, our two representatives in the region, express themselves.


Opening of a regional office in Beirut (Lebanon)

In response to an official invitation from the President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), Patrick Verbruggen - co - director of TGH - and Serge Gruel visited Damascus in September 2016 for a first 48-hour visit, with the objective to introduce the NGO, its mandate and activities to SARC officials and to validate the possibility of intervening in Syria. At the end of the meeting, the SARC President confirmed his interest in TGH and committed to intervening with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to initiate the registration process.

Behind this official green light is TGH’s development strategy in the Near East Region. In April 2017, where do we stand?

Serge Gruel, Regional Coordinator in Beirut – Lebanon

Serge Gruel, Regional Coordinator in Beirut – Lebanon
Photo : TGH ©

Interview with Serge Gruel, Regional Coordinator, living in Beirut since mid-January

What is the purpose of your presence in Beirut?

It is double. The first objective is to finalize registration with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, which has been coordinating the humanitarian operations of international NGOs in Syria since 2008. Awaiting this green light requires a permanent presence on the ground: we must be pugnacious, focused and maintain a functional and regular communication in order to respond to the requests of the Syrian authorities (MoFA). Recently, we have had to present our humanitarian actions supporting the Syrian refugee population at regional level (educational programme in Iraqi Kurdistan, opening of a regional office in Lebanon to support the Lebanese and Syrian populations affected by the Syrian crisis). The average time spent to get an official registration is 8 to 10 months; it is a long process.

The second objective is to develop a partnership with the Lebanese NGO AMEL Association International. Created in 1979 and highly regarded in Lebanon, AMEL operates in the following sectors: health, psychosocial and education, vocational training, and support to projects focusing on women.

At the invitation of Joseph Dato (Humacoop), I visited the Etats Généraux de l'Humanitaire at the end of 2015 in Grenoble, where I met Dr. Kamel Mohanna, the Founding President of AMEL. During our discussion, Dr. Kamel invited TGH to come to Lebanon to develop a "peer-to-peer" partnership together. Beyond a common humanitarian response in support of the Syrian and Lebanese families affected by this major regional crisis, this collaboration challenges the north/south relationship between NGOs, which takes little or no account of the operational and management capacities of southern NGOs. This vision of a fairer functioning and of a recognition of these NGOs corresponds to TGH's approach to partnership development.

AMEL and TGH share the same values, have similar budgets and operate in quite similar sectors. These similarities will promote exchanges on practices and operational approaches, and the slight differences between our fields of activity will allow mutual enrichment. This "peer-to-peer" partnership is both an opportunity and a challenge that we want to meet together. It is also a concrete possibility for TGH to propose a regional humanitarian response to a protracted crisis that will last several years.

Discussion group with Syrian refugee families, Hasbaiya District – Lebanon

Discussion group with Syrian refugee families, Hasbaiya District – Lebanon
Photo : TGH ©

What is the nature of the project with AMEL?

The first project focuses on the Education and Livelihood sectors, with an agricultural component. We have jointly delineated an intervention zone where AMEL already operates in non-formal education in informal and temporary camps, to propose a complementary activity to their action. The targeted camps are located in the districts of Marjayoun and Hasbaiya (Governorate of Nabatieh). Bordering Syria and Israel, this rural and agricultural area has been hosting a few hundred Syrian refugee families for several years. Whereas international NGOs focus in priority on areas of greater concentration of Syrian refugees (Bekaa Region, for example), VASyR (Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees 2016) reports a significant increase in the percentage of food insecurity between 2015 and 2016 in these rural areas of the Nabatieh Gourvenorat. I am currently finalizing an evaluation on these areas and issues, in order to confirm precisely the needs of the populations.


What developments are considered?

Humanitarian needs in Syria are enormous throughout the country. Out of a population estimated at 22 million before the conflict, more than 4.8 million are now refugees in neighbouring countries, and more than 6.3 million are internally displaced. In Syria, 1.7 million children are out of school and more than 13.5 million people are considered in need of humanitarian assistance, which represents more than 50% of the total population. This is a major crisis. TGH's focus in Syria, discussed with the Red Crescent last September, is to provide a humanitarian response in the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation and Education sectors. We will define more precisely the actions and areas of intervention once registered in Syria.

Lebanon is hosting 1.5 million refugees (including 1.1 million registered with UNHCR¹), which represents a 30% increase in the Lebanese population. This has a real impact on basic services and weakens the country.

For several months now, we have been studying with AMEL the option of submitting a partnership project for MADAD² funding, to meet at regional level the needs of the Syrian population affected by this crisis. This is an important multi-year consortium project that targets Education and Livelihood.

¹ United Nations Refugee Agency
² Funding initiated in 2014 and managed by the European Commission


Education and child protection in Iraqi Kurdistan

Keiko Cornale, Head of Mission based in Erbil, is in charge of piloting Triangle Génération Humanitaire's programmes, mainly focused on child protection and education. She makes sure that the teams have the necessary means to carry out the actions on the ground, and transmits the necessary information to project funders and to the partners and institutions working with TGH.

Interview with Keiko Cornale - Head of Mission in Iraqi Kurdistan

Keiko Cornale, Head of Mission in Erbil – Iraqi Kurdistan

Keiko Cornale, Head of Mission in Erbil – Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : TGH ©

What are TGH’s actions in Iraqi Kurdistan?

In practical terms, what we call "regular" programmes, particularly in Erbil Governorate where we have been working with Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people since 2014. We work mainly in child protection and education, either through "cash" assistance to the most vulnerable families to cover children’s transport costs to school, or through various activities such as in the Bardarash area where our mobile teams travel by bus from place to place, providing psychosocial support for displaced children, as well as remedial courses and academic support.

Concurrently, due to the military offensive launched in Mosul in October 2016, we have developed an emergency component in IDP camps to carry out child protection and emergency education activities. As soon as they arrive in the IDP camps, we provide them psychological first aid to enable them to have a first emotional debriefing, and we give them the necessary information about the services available in the camp. Our social workers identify children at risk and unaccompanied or separated children. They can join the Child Friendly Space, which organizes daily recreational activities and provide psychosocial support. Thereby they gain confidence in their new environment and subsequently take part in non-formal education activities (remedial or literacy courses).

With the gradual liberation of Mosul, will the children be able to return to school?

It should be noted that we are talking here of children who have spent two or more years out of school, outside any educational system and recreational and playful environment. Today, the Iraqi Ministry of Education is willing to reopen schools. Classes resume, schools open in newly liberated areas, teachers are recruited. However, these children need a little help, extra support, to reintegrate formal education.

Emergency education supports this transition, so that children can be reintegrated both socially and educationally into the formal education system.

Awareness-raising session on Children’s Rights in Turcomas – Iraqi Kurdistan

Awareness-raising session on Children’s Rights in Turcomas – Iraqi Kurdistan
Photo : TGH ©

TGH also participates in the reunification of families separated during their displacement. How does this process work?

For the reunification of unaccompanied or separated children, we work with the Camp Management team (which manages the whole camp), the Crisis Unit of the Iraqi government (State structure in charge of the crisis), and the various organizations specialized in child protection in Kurdistan (in and outside the camps). The first step is to get as much information as possible about the child, their home town or neighbourhood, their parents and the situation that led to the separation. This information gathering is achieved through discussions with the child but also with people who arrived at the same time and/ or from the same area. This allows us to trace the family and to try to contact tem. Then, several cases are possible.

Often, the separation took place during the displacement, and the family is in another camp. In this case, we contact the child protection focal points in the camps where the families are located, in order to prepare the reunification. Then we go through the Camp Management of both camps to organize the transfer. In other cases, the family may still be in Mosul. This takes more time, as special permits are required for reunification. After ensuring that this is in the best interests of the child, we are in constant contact with the Camp Management and the Crisis Unit who are part of the committee authorizing people to leave the camps. Conversely, when a family wants to come to the camp, the process is much simpler. Finally, if a part of the family who fled ISIS in 2014 is located elsewhere, in Erbil, Dohuk or Kirkuk for example, it is necessary to be sponsored to apply for reunification outside the camps. This takes longer, particularly due to security checks.

Of course, these processes take time. Overall, collaboration with the Camp Management, the Government Crisis Unit and other NGOs in the field allows us to succeed. By putting forward the needs of children to return to their families, we try to be a lever between these two bodies.

For more information about our projects, see Programmes on TGH's website.

In Brief…

January 2017 :
At the beginning of 2017, TGH has put an end to the actions it had started in 2005 in Timor-Leste. Over a period of 12 years, TGH has implemented 17 programmes in the following sectors: access to water, hygiene and sanitation and protection of vulnerable populations.

January 17th, 2017
TGH organized a new Café humanitaire at the Café de la Cloche in Lyon 2nd arrondissement. The meeting on "Humanitarian Issues: Working in Ukraine" brought together over 70 people. See an extract here.

January 18th, 2017
For the fifth consecutive year, TGH took part in the job fair organized by Sciences Po Lyon.

February 13th, 2017
Following an upsurge in tensions in eastern Ukraine, TGH issued a press release announcing its contribution to the efforts made by humanitarian organizations to mitigate the impact of the conflict on populations.

February 21st, 2017
TGH participated in an internship with the football team Lyon Duchère AS. The young sportsmen and sportswomen of the club were able to discuss TGH's actions in Congo Brazzaville and prepared the distribution of packages of sports and school material for the children of Brazzaville.

March 1st, 2017 
TGH took part in the conference "The War in Ukraine: Strategic, diplomatic and humanitarian challenges" organized by the University of Lyon 2. A hundred people attended the meeting. If you have not been able to attend, you can still see it here or have a preview in pictures.

March 3rd, 2017 
TGH took part in the Forum of professional meetings organized by the national network of students ENACTUS, in Lyon.

March 8th, 2017 
As part of the World Women's Rights Day, TGH and its partners in Iraqi Kurdistan - the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Judy Organization for Relief and Development (JORD) and the Swedish organization Qandil - organized awareness-raising sessions on the legal protection of women and against gender-based violence.

March 8th to 10th, 2017 
TGH took part in the 16th NGO Forum of the Bioforce Institute, where trainees were able to meet and exchange ideas with members of our team.

March 16th, 2017 
TGH took part in the conference "NGO communication: at what price?” Organized by the associations Idées and Humacoop at the tourism centre in Grenoble.

April 3rd, 2017 
TGH took part in the conference "The localization of aid and the application of humanitarian principles: Challenges and Perspectives" organized by the Bioforce Institute and the review Alternatives Humanitaires.

April 8th, 2017
TGH took part in the symposium "Humanitarian action: Adapt or give up" organized by the University Degree of Humanitarian Action of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Burgundy, Dijon.

Café humanitaire

Coming up:


On Tuesday May 2nd, at 7 pm at the Café de la Cloche in Lyon, we will organize our third Café Humanitaire on the theme
"Humanitarian Issues: Working in Iraqi Kurdistan".