The Impact of COVID-19 on Local Peacebuilding in the Middle East

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The outbreak of COVID-19 in conflict zones was regarded by many as an opportunity for peace. But today, the stark reality in many conflict zones has shown that the opportunity may have been missed. Cease-fires are being ignored, and the politics of the pandemic have enabled conflict and violence rather than deterred them. The past few months have shown that while the COVID-19 health crisis will eventually subside, its economic, social, and political implications will unfortunately outlive it. In the face of these challenges, how are local peacebuilding efforts in the Middle East coping with the far-reaching effects of the pandemic in both the short- and long-term?
Iraqi border police at the Zurbatiya border crossing with Iran, Monday, March 9, 2020. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)
Iraqi border police at the Zurbatiya border crossing with Iran, Monday, March 9, 2020. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)
Join USIP and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) for a panel discussion featuring peacebuilding experts and practitioners from the Middle East. The online conversation will look at the implications of COVID-19 on peacebuilding at the local level in three particular Middle Eastern contexts—Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—as well as how regional and international actors should engage in the Middle East to support local peace actors as they try to preserve the gains they’ve made over the past few years.Join the conversation with #COVIDInMiddleEast.


Dr. Elie Abouaounopening remarks
Director of Middle East and North Africa Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

Dr. Sultan Barakat
Founding Director, Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies

Dr. Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahouopening remarks
Director of Politics and Governance, ODI

Mrs. Nadwa Al-Dawsari
Non-resident Fellow, The Middle East Institute

Mrs. Noor Qais
Program Officer, Sanad for Peacebuilding, Iraq

Dr. Sherine Taraboulsi-McCarthymoderator
Interim Senior Research Fellow, The Politics and Governance Program (ODI)

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