What is CYC?

Founded in 1997, the Children and Youth Center (CYC) provides space for the children and youth of Shatila and Nahr el-Bared refugee camps, to develop their potential. The CYC is a non-governmental organisation, and caters to all nationalities residing within the camp, including many Syrian and Lebanese children. We believe all children and youth have the right to learn and play, in safety.

The Palestinian children’s problems of poverty are exacerbated by isolation and rejection by the host country. Amongst the civil rights abuses, Palestinians living in Lebanon are prohibited from owning or inheriting property, and are barred from most professions. If living nightmares create resentment and frustration, what happens when children are robbed of their dreams too?

In regard to the Shatila refugee camp it primarily exists due to the 1948 Palestinian exodus; at that time over 700,000 people were forced from Palestine, by Zionist aggression. In 1982 Shatila camp was the scene of the Sabra and Shatila massacre of men, women, and children, carried out by the Phalange, and overseen by the Israeli armed forces.

CYCs work

The Children and Youth Center (CYC) is a non-governmental organisation located in the Palestinian refugee camps of both Shatila, in Beirut, and Nahr el-Bared. We work under the International Child and Human Rights Convention in cooperation with UNICEF, UNESCO, Save the Children (Sweden), and other child protectors, to defend the child’s right to learn and play, in safety. Added support comes from a variety of other interested organisations, and individuals.

Foremost the CYC is a lifeline for many of Shatila and Nahr el-Bared camp’s most disadvantaged youth. The CYC employs the child-to-child teaching methodology, and empowers the individual with child and human rights knowledge. We work to help create aware and responsible future generations that are able and determined, to positively contribute to their community, and to society as a whole.

Founded in 1997, the CYC provides guidance and space, for the youth of the two camps to develop their education, abilities, and imagination. We strive to supply the vital tools, information, and opportunities necessary for self-expression, self-discovery, and self-development, for an environment in which all Shatila’s and Nahr e-Bared’s children and youth can pursue, and achieve their dreams.

The CYC provides a wide variety of educational and recreational activities, for children and youth, aged six to eighteen years. The activities follow an active learning methodology, which in turn supports the youth centre’s aims and ideology, including the effective involvement of children and youth in the application of their centre. The centre also acts as a social meeting point where the age groups can meet, interact, and learn from one another informally, as well as formally.

The success of the CYC is the collaboration of its members, adults and children alike. The children’s committee – a democratically elected committee of children and youth – participates in all decision making, and plays an active role in the running of the centre’s daily life, as well as in the planning of its future.

The Palestinian children of especially Shatila are 3rd and 4th generation Palestinian refugees. These young people were born and raised in the midst of the last Lebanese civil war, and the Sabra and Shatila Massacre. Their families have travelled a long way since their forced departure from Palestine in the al-nakba – ‘disaster’ – of 1948. Now the young people must take over that journey, and continue the search for a way home.


Space for the children and youth of Shatila and Nahr el-Bared camp