Amman, 10 June 2020 - The Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen has concluded the first large-scale virtual consultation with hundreds of Yemenis on the opportunities and challenges of peace in Yemen, including the UN’s ongoing efforts to mediate between the parties to reach inclusive and sustainable peace.
During three hours of live, interactive online discussion on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 June, over 500 Yemeni participants expressed their thoughts on the prospect of a nationwide ceasefire, the future of the political peace process and key humanitarian and economic measures that are needed to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Yemen and to improve the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Most of the participants worked with civil society organizations and nearly 60% were under the age of 41. 57% lived inside Yemen across the country, predominantly from Sana’a, Aden and Taiz. And some 30-35% of the participants were women. The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen partnered with Yemeni and international NGOs to identify participants for the two-day virtual consultation from political parties, women’s networks, youth groups, media, and civil society organizations.
An overwhelming majority of the participants expressed grave concern about the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen and linked the failures in Yemen’s response to the outbreak to the continued war. 95% agreed a nationwide ceasefire is necessary for an effective response to the Coronavirus outbreak in the country. Many called the situation “catastrophic”; others expressed anxiety and fear. 62% of the participants equated the threat of the outbreak to the impact of the war and agreed that “Yemen is suffering from two viruses: the war and Corona.”
“While I am cognizant of the limitations of digital consultations in terms of reach and representation, this has been an important step to reach out to Yemenis outside of our usual circles. My office will continue reaching out to broader Yemeni groups and constituencies online and offline to inform our proposals and our mediation strategies for durable peace in Yemen. I am grateful to the hundreds of participants who engaged in this consultation with candor and honesty to advocate for their communities’ needs and priorities,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen. “I am also grateful to numerous NGOs that supported this digital inclusion initiative with outreach to their networks”, he added.
The payment of civil servant salaries was flagged as a top priority by the participants with 99% agreeing that it is both important and urgent – the highest level of consensus during the two-day consultation. 76% of the participants gave the issue of salaries the highest rank among all proposed humanitarian and economic measures designed to alleviate the suffering in Yemen.
The consultations also indicated widespread support for the resumption of the peace talks to reach a comprehensive end of the war in Yemen. 85% of the participants agreed that the resumption of the peace talks is both important and urgent. During a discussion about the political process, most participants pointed to the importance of peaceful conflict resolution and inclusive dialogue to achieve stability and begin reconstruction and development.
The United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs in New York and its partners offered the platform and research expertise at no cost. This is the first time that this technology, which allows for real-time online discussion in combination with polling, is being deployed by an UN active mediation process.
The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen partnered with a number of NGOs to conduct these consultations including (in alphabetical order): Berghof Foundation, Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, Civil Alliance for Peace, Conflict Management Initiative, DeepRoot, European Institute for Peace, Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Peace Track Initiative, Political Development Forum, Public International Law and Policy Group, Resonate! Yemen, Sana’a Centre for Strategic Studies, Search for Common Ground, UNESCO, Women Solidarity Network.