The military escalation and the violent clashes of the last weeks in Israel and Palestine have shaken our partners, but also us very much. We are glad and relieved that both our partners and the former participants are well; nevertheless, the political developments remain deeply worrying, especially since riots in Jerusalem and air attacks on Gaza have just been reported once more.
Even though the pandemic situation in Germany is fortunately easing at the moment, the planning and implementation of project activities remain difficult. Thus, with a heavy heart, we decided to cancel the dialogue seminar for young women* from Palestine and Israel planned for this August in Germany. The decisive factor, in the end, was the fact that the visa process for the Palestinian participants, which requires a lead-time of at least eight weeks, will not work out in time. Although the visa office in Ramallah has just re-opened finally, it remains unclear when entry to Germany for groups from Palestine will be possible again. In addition, uncertainties remain about entry and quarantine regulations, both for Germany and for Jordan, through which most Palestinians have to travel.
Despite or even because of the current political situation in Israel and Palestine, our partners are determined to continue their work. However, in view of the escalation, the plans for activities on the ground have to be partly adjusted. Initially, the focus will be on uni-national meetings and workshops for former participants as well as a facilitation training for staff. From August onwards, bi-national meetings will be held locally, followed by a two-week meeting in Cyprus in December.
Last week, Ratko Mladić, one of the main perpetrators of the Srebrenica genocide, was found guilty again by the International Criminal Court and sentenced to life in prison. Following the confirmation of the sentence, there were demonstrations of nationalists in Serbia and the Bosnian Republica Srpska, who still celebrate Mladić as a war hero. Also, Milorad Dodik, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina repeated his denial of the genocide in Srebrenica. These current events are very worrying for our partners. The developments show once again how important our partners’ tireless efforts for understanding, for a joint dealing with the violent past and against nationalism continue to be.
In the former Yugoslavia, various online events of the Youth United in Peace Network have already taken place, as well as small face-to-face events and activities with locally active groups in the partner cities. Furthermore, we hope that the planned Peace Camp in Medena in Croatia this summer, the follow-up camp in Vukovar and the weekend visits in late summer and autumn can take place. We are currently in talks with the accommodation in Medena in order to develop a suitable hygiene concept for the Peace Camp. Our partners meet regularly, both digitally and in person, to exchange information about the situation, adjust plans on an ongoing basis, and implement local or digital activities.