Years of armed conflict and the legacy of Daesh’s brutal rule have scarred a generation of young people in Iraq and Syria. Evidence from recent Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)-funded research and programming in Syria and Iraq offers insights into how policy responses can adapt.

On Thursday, 26 May the FCDO, Syria Education Programme (SEP), and the Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research programme held this online event to consider several key questions:

  • How has armed conflict and violent extremism impacted adolescents? What factors shape their vulnerability to or resilience against violent extremism?
  • What considerations should be kept in mind when developing programming for youth in Syria and Iraq?
  • What lessons can be drawn from recent stabilisation and development interventions to inform conflict and violent extremism prevention amongst youth in Syria and Iraq?


  • Dr Haid Haid (Consulting Associate Fellow, Chatham House) and Alex Fischer (XCEPT Research Manager) presented new Syria Education Program and XCEPT research on adolescents formerly Daesh-held areas of Syria.
  • Professor Kelsey Shanks (UNESCO Chair in Education for Peacebuilding and Human Rights, University of Ulster) shared findings from recent research with adolescent youth in formerly Daesh-held communities of Iraq.
  • Caroline Hoy (Syria Programme Director, Mercy Corps) shared findings from recent work in northeast Syria, as well as evidence and lessons learned from both research and programmatic interventions, providing insights on ‘what works’ to prevent violent extremism and promote social cohesion in the region.
  • Patrick Merienne (Conflict Advisor – Syria, FCDO) offered discussant remarks to open the question and answer period.
  • Dr Ruth Citrin (XCEPT Consortium Executive Director) moderated the discussion.

The Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research programme brings together world-leading experts to examine conflict-affected borderlands, how conflicts connect across borders, and the drivers of violent and peaceful behaviour. Funded by UK aid, XCEPT offers actionable research to inform policies and programmes that support peace.

To request additional information, please contact XCEPT at [email protected]