Since 2011, Syrians have been living through a war and the challenges that prolonged conflict entails. Those who have fled overseas – often as refugees – and those who have remained in the country have lost family members and their homes, lack access to education and health facilities, and are living with the daily threat of violence. In such a context, ethnic and religious divides have intensified and armed groups have been increasingly recruiting young people in Syria and neighbouring countries.
Against this backdrop, between 2015 and 2017, BBC Media Action produced and broadcast 150 episodes of the thrice-weekly radio drama Hay el Matar (Airport District ). Funded by the European Commission as part of a broader project aiming to help build an open and inclusive society in conflict-ridden Syria, the classic soap opera aired on BBC Arabic radio and online and was accompanied by a weekly discussion programme. Set in a fictional Damascus suburb, Hay el Matar followed the daily lives of residents and featured love affairs, family feuds and tragedies. Each episode was scripted by a team of Syrian writers and touched on a different issue relevant to life in Syria (e.g. the ongoing civil war, migration, violence and radicalisation, economic insecurity and child or forced marriage).
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