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November



JMU center gets $388,442 to lead safety training for Syrian refugees

With unexploded ordnance littering their country, Syrian refugees need to learn how to spot danger and what they can do to stay safe. A center based at James Madison University will take the lead in providing that education.

Dr. Suzanne Fiederlein, associate director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at JMU, will head to Jordan Thursday, Nov. 14, to begin working with two Jordanian partner organizations that will conduct the training in the northern city of Mafraq. The training will begin this month and continue through May 2014. A final program featuring artwork of children who have been trained will be held in June 2014.

The training program is being funded by $388,442 from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. About 500 children and 75 adults will receive the training, which will include instruction on how they can train others about what they learn.

"It's not just identifying the items themselves, but also understanding how to read a situation and knowing when it could be dangerous," Fiederlein said.

Dr. Ken Rutherford, a landmine survivor and director of CISR, said, "Syria itself has not been exposed to this type of education because these weapons have never before infested its soil."

Training for children will focus on portraying safety messages through art, which will then be turned into printed materials that can be used to teach children in other communities. The children's training will be conducted by Life Line for Consultancy and Rehabilitation, an organization CISR has worked with before to train Jordanian children. The National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation will conduct the adult training.

"The post conflict work in Syria could be one of the most complicated humanitarian operations in history," Rutherford said. "Never have cities been under so much fire for such an extended period of time." The conflict pitting forces loyal to the Ba'ath government and those seeking to oust it began in March 2011.

CISR helps communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative research, training, information exchange and direct services. CISR was founded at JMU in 1996 as the Mine Action Information Center, becoming CISR in 2008. Since its founding, CISR has worked worldwide to help communities build peaceful and prosperous futures free from the repercussions of war and disaster.

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