The association was formed by the initiative of a group of displaced people from different provinces from Syria who currently reside in countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, and areas in Syria outside the control of the Syrian regmie. Their initial objective was to address the absence of a legitimate and effective voice of displaced Syrians in any of the key decision-making forums, while they were facing constant threats and expropriation and encroachment of their properties, and their future was being decided in their absence.
In late 2017, several meetings were held to discuss:
- How to create a truly legitimate voice for the displaced people to decide their fate?
- What is the best model to organize a movement of displaced Syrians so that it can be heard and influence decision and policy makers?
- How to reach various areas where the displaced people from Syria are located inside and outside Syria and mobilize them into a movement that will genuinely fight for their rights?
After several meetings, the initial group expanded into consultations with a broader spectrum of influential community leaders. The initial ideas matured and developed into a vision of how the refugees/IDPs should be the constituency that will define a clear set of conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return, and how these conditions should form the cornerstone of any future political solution.
A “pilot project” was launched to test the implementation of the vision, starting from the Homs Province, where a series of consultations and outreach activities led to the formation of an “Assembly”, which in turn appointed a group of volunteering “trustees” as a form of collective leadership. The Trustees are people with impeccable reputations and remarkable biographies who are living among the displaced. They were entrusted with leading the movement, communicating with the people, building the movement’s legitimacy, and transmitting the message that the displaced Syrians must be represented in discussions about the conditions of their return and the human rights violations they face.
The preliminary efforts to form the Association were supported by the European Institute of Peace (EIP), represented by international activists convinced that the voice of the Syrian displaced people and refugees should be at the heart of any real political solution. Once the “model’ was implemented in Homs Province was beginning to give clear indication of success, the Association launched the same model/approach with the same vision and narrative in other provinces, including Damascus, Damascus Rural Area, Aleppo Deir Ezzor and most recently Hama over a period of a year and a half.
The official launch event for the association was on 2nd of December 2018. The movement has been growing rapidly since then, and more provinces are joining, and more influential displaced figures and citizens are joining the cause.