Two NGOs move to reduce tribal, other conflicts

Two international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are sufficiently concerned about the extent of tribal and other kinds of conflict in Yemen to have independently started programmes aimed at reducing them.

The two NGOs - the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Islamic Relief - have set up programmes in seven of the country’s 21 governorates.

Current conflicts involve land disputes, fights over water resources, revenge killings, family disputes, inter-tribal conflicts and conflicts between tribes and the government.

According to the NDI, these kinds of conflict have prevented government institutions from functioning effectively in certain areas, have hampered local government efforts, and affected participation in elections.

In February 2007 the NDI released a report on a field study on armed conflict in three governorates – Marib, al-Jawf and Shabwa - and found that over 158 conflicts had occurred between 2001 and 2005 involving 221 tribes.

Only 6 percent of these conflicts were resolved, the study said. It concluded that tribal conflicts were on the rise and that the authorities rarely intervened.

The study also found that tribal conflict was sometimes ignited by the establishment of development projects in certain areas but not others.
 


Photo: Muhammad al-Jabri/IRIN
Nadwa al-Dawsari, NDI's senior programme manager

NDI programme

In May 2007 NDI began a programme in Mareb, Shabwa, and al-Jawf governorates to help resolve long-standing conflicts there. The programme, called Conflict Management, involves the Higher National Committee for Combating Revenge (HNCCR), a government body, and three local NGOs.

"We help the HNCCR create a database on conflicts in the said governorates through training. We also train them on managing and analysing armed conflicts," Nadwa al-Dawsari, NDI's senior programme manager, told IRIN. As part of the programme, NDI also offers capacity building (including fund-raising) to three local NGOs in the three governorates.

In March 2008 NDI will run training for trainers courses on conflict management and analysis for 16 people from these NGOs, and in April NDI will launch a tribal conflict awareness campaign in the three governorates. According to al-Dawsari, the campaign will target students, mosque preachers, women and tribal leaders.

NDI's programme also aims to give technical support to the three NGOs operating in Marib, al-Jawf and Shabwa so that they can monitor development projects and services in the governorates and report to the government, donors and the public, al-Dawsari said.

Islamic Relief programme

Separately, in December 2007 Islamic Relief started a two-year programme aimed at reducing violent conflict in the country through what it calls “the mainstreaming of conflict transformation and the promotion of responsible citizenship”. The programme offers participation in workshops for 665 individuals in the governorates of Saada, Lahj, Aden and Sanaa.


Photo: Muhammad al-Jabri/IRIN
Abdul-Aziz Saeed says conflicts in Yemen are widespread

“We seek to create social peace in the community and encourage dialogue in solving conflicts,” Abdul-Aziz Said, Islamic Relief’s programme manager in Sanaa, told IRIN.

Said said trainers will help workshop participants better understand conflict resolution. “The techniques include explaining how problems start and get complicated, the parties involved in conflicts, and who benefits from such conflicts. They also help participants understand the role of mediation and arbitration,” he said.

“The availability of arms… helps spread conflict,” Said said, adding that the widespread tribal conflicts in the country were worrying.

maj/ar/cb