the corona pandemic is forcing the project Vacation from War to change plans for this year. In the past few weeks, it has become clear that we have to go different ways in 2020: both the dialogue seminars for Israelis and Palestinians in Germany and the big Youth Encounter for young people from the countries of the former Yugoslavia cannot take place as planned.

Above all, we were guided by our responsibility for the health of our employees and participants when making these decisions. In addition, the development of the situation is so uncertain that we did not want to let cancellation deadlines for flights and accommodation pass, taking seriously our financial responsibility towards the project and towards you, who make the project possible through your donations. Questions about entry requirements to Germany and any associated conditions remain open as well. The same is true in the former Yugoslavia: the young people come from different countries and it is unclear which travel regulations will apply in Croatia in summer.

Alternatives for 2020

Instead, with our partners we have decided to use the im-possibilities that the pandemic creates in a constructive way – with new formats and concepts, some of them have already been discussed, but until now either time or additional funding was lacking in the past. We can gain experience for future work from this year’s new activities. In addition, we will offer partners in the project regions opportunities for small trainings. This way, we can use the crisis as an opportunity. Specifically, the coordinators of the women’s* seminar are currently planning a series of multi-day meetings for participants of past seminars in Israel and Palestine from autumn onwards, in which opportunities for joint activism form a central topic. In this way, work in the region can be further stabilized and intensified – expanding this area of work has been on our agenda for a long time: it is an important aspect for strengthening the impact on local societies. The coordinators of the Allgenders-Seminar even have set out to organize a Dialogue Seminar locally.

In the former Yugoslavia, young people from YU-Peace are currently involved in neighborhood assistance or support initiatives organized by the Red Cross. Our partners will make up for what is already planned, i.e. a follow-up camp for alumni and several weekend visits, in the last quarter of this year. An “online camp” is planned for the summer, in which the young people can exchange ideas across borders in virtual spaces and participate in various political workshops.

So this year, a lot will be different than usual, but our work continues!