The current conflict in Yemen is a result of many years of political neglect by a corrupt and nepotistic elite coupled with several regional and tribal conflicts and exacerbated by scarce resources and widespread poverty. Since 2004, growing tensions between government forces, anti-government revolutionaries and militant Islamist groups have sparked civil war-like conditions and displaced more than 250,000 people. The Yemeni ‘Arab Spring’ revolution in 2011 has increased the tensions as youth revolutionaries demand the implementation of effective democratic principles and rule of law.
In 2008, some of the worst floods in recent memory crippled the already struggling agricultural sector while a steadily growing influx of refugees from Somalia put further strain on the limited food resources. Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees have already fled the conflict in South-Central Somalia and settled in Yemeni refugee camps on the southern coast under very poor conditions.
Yemen has the second highest known level of civilian firearms possession in the world and at the local level it is estimated that violent conflicts over land and water ownership cause up to 4,000 murders per year. Land disputes are recognised as the most common cause of armed violence in Yemen but inter-tribal conflicts are also common and stand in the way of a positive and rational development and equity in national political governance. The risk that local conflicts will escalate into broader regional violence and destabilise the country increases as both formal state institutions and informal conflict management mechanisms are eroded by the current political hiatus.
In Yemen, Danish Demining Group (DDG) collaborates closely with its parent organisation the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) which implements livelihoods projects and provides support to refugees and host populations, especially in the regions of Harad and Aden. The overall goal of the DDG and DRC joint interventions is to contribute to the stabilisation of fragile parts of Yemen by enhancing community safety and improving the quality of lives and livelihoods among conflict-affected populations. One project, funded by UNICEF, aims to provide improved child protection monitoring, including risk education on unexploded ordnance and small arms specifically tailored for children. In addition to this, DDG provides Conflict Management Education for all ages in communities deemed most at risk of outbreaks of violent conflict.
The specific objective of DDG’s interventions in Yemen is to improve the capacity of approximately 14,000 direct beneficiaries with planned outcomes to include strengthened conflict management skills and a decreased number of resource conflicts. In addition, the number of people killed or injured by explosive remnants of war in target areas is expected to be reduced. DDG collaborates closely with the Yemen Mine Action Centre (YEMAC) in order to enhance the national and local capacity for risk mitigation.