For security reasons, The SPARK team cannot operate from inside Syria and is therefore currently operating from Gaziantep in southern Turkey, about 60 km from the Syrian border. To address both the needs of the refugee population in Turkey and of those that remain inside Syria, SPARK is working in both countries.
Four years into the crisis, the situation in Syria is dire. What initially begun as a small anti-regime protest in March 2011, has turned into a complex and violent war. Dozen militias, including IS, control parts of the country, the economy has largely been destroyed and big parts of the country suffer from food insecurity. International diplomatic efforts have so far failed and no solution is in sight. Nearly a quarter of the total population have fled the country. Another quarter of the total population is internally displaced.
Before the war, agriculture was one of the largest industries in Syria. Because of the high number of refugees, there is a lack of labour force in the agricultural sector and consequently, food security is of primary concern, especially in the densely populated north. SPARK is therefore developing an Agricultural Higher Education Institute inside Syria to renew the workforce and invest in the agricultural production. Moreover, by offering higher education programmes, SPARK tries to reduce the risk of young people falling victim to radicalisation.
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