Realising the importance and necessity to engage Yemen’s largest demographic group as part of ongoing international efforts related to that country and the wider region of Arabia, LINKS Europe on 28 and 29 May, hosted in the Hague the first in a series of dialogue meetings with young Yemenis from the diaspora communities across Europe. LINKS Europe plans to host four such roundtable meetings in Europe this year, and a number of other ancillary activities, as part of an exercise to help empower young Yemenis to articulate a future vision for their country and region.
The participants hailed from different parts of Yemen and represented different views and experiences. During the two-day workshop, they engaged in a fruitful discussion and laid out several ideas and recommendations in various aspects related to the Yemen conflict and prospects for peace.
During the event, the participants also heard an update on the current situation around the peace process from HE Sahar Ghanem, Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. Ambassador Ghanem answered questions from participants on a range of issues related to the work of the Government, and to the international response to the situation in Yemen.
During the workshop participants highlighted the fact that young Yemenis continue to be marginalised in the political processes deciding the fate of their country, be that the peace process or the conversations over the socio-economic situation in the country. This marginalisation comes despite the fact that young people make up the vast majority of Yemen’s population.
The situation was even worse when it came to young people in the diaspora, and participants felt that despite the obvious limitations, young Yemenis in the diaspora had much to contribute to the debate on the future of their country. Participants also felt it was important to map out youth mobilisation and activity both inside and outside the country to ensure that any future action adds value and is not a replica of things already ongoing. Participants noted that a youth vision for the country and region should be based on a broad consultation process that emphasized inclusivity and the ability of people to express what they thought without fear.
During the event LINKS Europe also showcased its work on confidence-building measures in areas of conflict, and participants discussed how these tools could also be used in the case of Yemen, and how young people can be involved in the process.
Participants also laid out their vision for the future of the country, arguing that it should be based on the rule of law, social justice, equal citizenship, sovereignty, and ending classism and division.