Amman – A series of meetings bringing together Yemeni community leaders with representatives of the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY), diplomatic missions, and other international bodies concluded in Amman on March 5, with discussions focusing on a range of local issues, notably the need to reopen and demine roads and the importance of reassessing the list of prohibited imports into Yemen.
The meetings, organized by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies in partnership with Saferworld, are part of a project aimed at exploring alternative methodologies for Track II peace efforts in Yemen through strategic working groups in four governorates – Marib, Shabwa, Hadramawt, and Al-Mahra.
Yemeni participants proposed practical plans to reopen and demine roads, noting that ongoing local mediation has sought to address the issue at a local level but that these efforts require renewed international support.
On the subject of prohibited imports to Yemen, in place since 2015, participants noted that the bans have compounded challenges faced by Yemenis in economic sectors such as fisheries, agriculture, and construction. The negative impacts of prohibiting the import of certain particular items were noted, including solar energy products, motorcycles, SUVs, and fertilizer, with participants saying the current status quo has led to increased smuggling and a thriving black market for such goods to supply both public sector institutions and private sector actors. Participants suggested aligning proposals to revise the list of prohibited imports with Track II peace efforts.
Other local issues cited as top priorities by participants included efforts to improve the working environment for local and international organizations in Marib, calls to establish a Petro Shabwa oil company and the rehabilitation of educational facilities in Shabwa, prison rehabilitation and improved governance of public funds in Hadramawt, and the establishment of an early warning center for natural disasters, a treatment and rehabilitation center for substance abuse victims, and a university in Al-Mahra.
International representatives also briefed participants on political, economic, and military updates from the four governorates.
Sana’a Center Chairperson Maged Al-Madhaji said that Amman meetings align with the Center’s efforts to provide a platform for Yemenis to discuss local priority issues that have been mostly overlooked during the war with international stakeholders on Yemen, and create opportunities for enhanced cooperation among local Yemeni communities, the OSESGY, and international donors.
The Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies is an independent think tank that seeks to foster change through knowledge production, with a focus on Yemen and the surrounding region. The Center’s publications and programs, offered in Arabic and English, cover political, social, economic, and security developments, aiming to impact policy locally, regionally, and internationally.
Saferworld is an independent organization that focuses on resolving conflicts, finding ways to strengthen the role of local governments in serving their communities, and increasing local organizations’ participation in the peace process in Yemen.