Covid-19: Tool of Conflict or Opportunity for Local Peace in Northwest Syria?


How did the Covid-19 pandemic interplay with conflict factors and dynamics in Syria, notably in the opposition-held areas that carry the burden of ten years of protracted conflict and displacement? This report contributes to this discussion. It is the fruit of a long-term research project led by Dr Juline Beaujouan in opposition-held areas in northwest Syria between June 2020 and April 2021. The study investigated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on local practices of peace in northwest Syria. It developed analysis of how issues of political trust and social cohesion, and the role of civil society have been reshaped by pandemic-related dynamics. Opposition-held areas were considered highly vulnerable to Covid-19 due to the countless destruction of infrastructure by the Syrian regime, combined with the local population density (Map 1). These two elements also render the areas particularly vulnerable to local conflicts at a time of pandemic when medical supplies are scarce, governmental institutions weak, and international development programmes halted. This report highlights the key findings of this research, to inform policymakers, funders, and peacebuilders of innovative opportunities to support local peace in Syrian opposition-held areas and other complex conflicts around the world.