Four leading Yemeni youth activists held an interactive online discussion with UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa MP James Cleverly on November 16, 2020.
Hosted by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in collaboration with the Sana’a Center Youth initiative (Yemen Peace Forum) and the Yemeni Youth Platform for Peace, the event aimed to provide a platform for Yemen’s youth to share their views and experiences on the conditions of their country that has been at war since 2014.
Youth and children make up over 60 percent of the Yemeni population, and any attempt by warring parties and the international community to reach an inclusive and lasting peace must not overlook the voices of the Yemeni youth.
Minister Cleverly said that “many Yemeni children and young people have only known lives ravaged by war. They face unimaginable threats, including violence and the alarming risk of famine. They must have their voices heard.
“The UK is the fourth biggest donor to Yemen so far in 2020, pledging over £1 billion in aid since the conflict began, and we are committed to a UN-led peace process inclusive of marginalized and diverse voices. Enabling young people to participate at all levels is vital to empowering future generations to support peace and rebuild Yemen’s future,” he added.
During the event, the speakers touched on a number of issues including UN Security Council Resolution 2250, saying that “the localization of this resolution in Yemen would not only help in achieving peace in the country, but it also would help the country make sustainable developmental gains that leave no one behind.”
Since the outbreak of the war, many Yemeni young women have spearheaded peacebuilding efforts in their country. One female speaker expressed her wish to improve the situation for women and girls in her country, calling on all parties to “work to end the war, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and contribute to building a safe and stable Yemen so we are not all on the dark side of history.”
“It is all our responsibility to give young Yemenis real alternatives that protect them from going to the battlefield. It is all our responsibility to secure them a better future,” another activist added.
Deputy Executive Director at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies Osamah Al-Rawhani said “it is encouraging to see the UK engage with the Yemeni youth, giving them a platform to get their voices heard in a conflict that is too often seen only through the lens of the warring parties. The Yemeni youth will decide on the future of the country and how state institutions should look like.”