DIFI conference explores ways to preserve Arab families during conflict

The Doha International Family Institute's (DIFI) Conference on Family Research and Policy, held on October 17-18, 2016, emphasized a commitment to influencing existing public policies and future research. Leading local and international researchers and policymakers examined the most effective means of preserving the family unit during times of instability and civil unrest, the experience and changing role of NGOs in war zones, post-war family transition and resettlement of refugees in the region.

Azza Abdelmoneium, Senior Associate Researcher, DIFI, focused on the plight of internally displaced children in Khartoum in Sudan during the ‘Impact of Wars and Conflicts on Women, Men and Children’ parallel session. “These children are displaced due to several reasons including migration, breakdown of families, conflicts and natural disasters, and are then forced to work under very harsh conditions and are subject to many forms of violence from their employers.”

“Only through raising awareness of these issues, and through further research and education, can we hope to influence and inform future policies to protect the rights of children in conflict areas,” Abdelmoneium said.

Delegates from Save the Children, Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development and Amel Association International tackled how the changing nature of both conflict and humanitarian relief has transformed the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the traditional role of mitigating the effects of conflict into performing new roles, including conflict prevention and peace building efforts.

In the ‘Health Consequences of Wars and Conflicts’ parallel session, guest speaker Jocelyn DeJong, PhD, American University Beirut, delivered a presentation entitled ‘Effects of Conflict on Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health – A Case Study’. DeJong explored the lack of data in addressing the health challenges in conflict areas while noting how these can be overcome by encouraging collaborations across humanitarian agencies, government bodies and academic institutions.

An interactive session at the end of the conference gave researchers and academics an opportunity to share their experiences, discuss the obstacles they have encountered when conducting research on war and conflict zones, and the best practices to advance their research moving forward.

Witness: ‘Syria: No Strings’, an Al Jazeera Documentary film, and ‘Scenes of War and Conflict: Arab Families in Focus’, photos by Al Jazeera, depicted the devastating impact of wars on the family structure and were exhibited during the conference.

Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) was DIFI’s official media partner for the Second Annual Conference on Family Research and Policy. The partnership was born as a result of their shared focus on human stories and an awareness of the multi-layered impacts that wars and conflicts have on Arab families.

DIFI is a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), and aims to support research programmes and policies to promote the development of Arab families.