What We Do
Yemen

To create an environment where all youths have hope, instead of weapons.

Many children and young people have been recruited as soldiers in this infamous and complex conflict. We take in such youths, facilitate their defection, and conduct rehabilitation so that they can put down their weapons and regain hope

For over a decade, the Republic of Yemen has been rife with conflicts. Especially since facing the civil war in 2014, the situation has further bogged down with no clear exit in sight, due to the uprising of Ansar Allah (the so-called Houthis), supported by Iran, whom Iran is reportedly supporting with weapons and drones. As a result, the country has been confronting one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world for a long term, with more than 4.3 million displaced since 2015, and an estimate of 17 million experiencing crisis-level food insecurity in 2023.

However, more concerning is the issues that could follow, or simultaneously occur from this catastrophe. One distinctive example would be the situation of youths and children in controlled areas of armed groups who have been susceptible to be recruited. They are often forced to join the groups and brainwashed by the armed groups to participate in violent actions. Moreover, they have no other choice but to join the groups to help ease the economic burden of their family.

Due to the radicalization of young generations and the violence it entails, rifts between the local communities are created, developing a chain of hatred in this already-conflict-inflicted country. This has created an environment where even after such youths and children have either defected from the armed groups or been arrested, reintegration with society is difficult. Thus, the chance for re-radicalization and rejoining of the groups to happen. These cases are known to aggravate the situation of conflict and steal the future of youths and children. Up until 2021, actions towards defectors and disengaged combatants of armed groups have rarely been implemented. Based on such desperate needs in Yemen, we must take action.

Our Activities in Yemen:

The DRR Project

To tackle the issues Yemen has been facing, the Deradicalization, Reinsertion, Reintegration (DRR) Project in Yemen was launched in June 2021. We have been conducting a holistic program that empowers disengaged combatants and returnees from armed groups, emphasizing youth and children through; successfully deradicalizing and reintegrating the targets; overseeing successful reconciliation with the local society; offering fundamental education and skills necessary for employment; and providing continuous support even after they accomplish the program.

Through the success in empowering the targeted youths and children, local societies will foresee a stronger economy, fulfilled community needs, and most importantly, the stabilization of the county. Operating in the Taiz governorate, we collaborate with local NGOs, the local government, and Yemenis residing in Japan. Taiz was selected as the operation area, due to the governorate’s importance as an area for defectors and returnees of armed groups to return to. The activities held under this project are as follows:

Care Counseling; Vocational Training; Life-Skill Training; Interactive Religious Seminar; Reconciliation Sessions; High Expectation Management Session; Long-term Follow-up; Defection Support; Provision of supplies for basic human needs; Improvement of the Special Detention Center

As part of this project, we also implement outreach activities to induce further defection of current armed group members, and facilitate an agreement among various actors in the Yemeni government towards the handling of ex-armed-group combatants.

In October 2022, we further expanded our activities, initiating deradicalization and reintegration programs for the Houthis’ detainees held in the Special Detention Center in Taiz. In Yemen, a prisoner swap system between the opposing Houthis and the Yemeni transitional government exists. However, such a framework creates a risk of the exchanged individual reverting to combatants and committing violent activities. To prevent this, we aim to de-radicalize and rehabilitate such detainees before releasing them so that each one of them can choose his or her life after the exchange.

We are also participating in the negotiation process of the "prisoner exchange" itself, where the exchange of government prisoners of war held by the Houthis and Houthi prisoners held by the government occurs. Not only in Taiz, similar initiatives in Maarib province, Central Yemen, have also been in development. We are determined to continue working for peace in Yemen, so that young people can live positively in their communities with hope, not with weapons.

"I was terrified to put my weapon aside and turn myself in. But now,
I think it was a good decision."

Adele/ Former member of the anti-government armed group, Al-Houthi

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