The Arab Renaissance Bows to The Conflict in Yemen
Sunday, September 10, 2017
While enjoying a considerable natural reserve of copper, nickel, lead, gold, marble, rock salt, and petroleum, Yemen persists as the poorest country in the Arab World, it ison the brink of famine,and continues to register the foremost devastating records of cholera outbreak. The escalation of conflict in Yemen over the last two years has already left two and a half million people displaced, (approximately 10% of the population, lack access to basic services, and approximately 5,000 new cases reported daily that continue to suffer from the cholera epidemic according to UNHCR’s latest report. The widespread malnutrition in Yemen has effectively increased the vulnerability of those infected with the disease, and has thus becomelife threatening.
On the Fragile States Index 2017, Yemen ranks No. 4 on the very high alert fragile countries. In its 2016 report launched in March 2017, the Human Development Index Yemen ranks 168 of countries of low human development with a significant decrease from 2015. The United Nation has described Yemen as “The largest humanitarian crisis in the world."
Yemen’s Conflict Victims
Civilians are, and continue to be the overwhelming victims of Yemen’s conflict. Aid agencies are rendered incapable of distributing aid amidst the ongoing violence and destruction in the country. A double victimization is therefore unfolding; that of society’s most vulnerable segments, and the generational consequences from the tremendous loss of life that will precipitate future inequity in the region. Yemen’s crippling humanitarian disaster points to an undeniable pattern in which major actors, regional and international, continue to ignore non-zero sum alternatives to resolving entrenched grievances.
The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) fully recognizes the complexities and dynamics of the seemingly endless conflict in Yemen, and the MENA region as a whole. Pursuant to its inherent context-driven rights based approach to addressing regional challenges, ARDD urges partnership with “all of society” and “all of government.”
Rights of the Yemeni people need to be preserved not out of goodwill of the different actors, but as rights they are fully entitled to have at all times and that are non-negotiable. Restoring the rights of the Yemeni people must be part of any effort that seeks to create an open platform for gathering all sides to address and resolve grievances. This includes building a framework based upon respect for human rights and basic dignities, the right to life and freedom to pursue legal economic opportunities, the acknowledgement of the inviolability of national sovereignty, all with the serious underlying considerations for the national security concerns of neighbor states.
ARDD further stresses that deliberations cannot, and must not take lightly the lethal implications such violence and structural upheavals have on innocent civilians, including the poorest and most vulnerable communities, which depend on critical infrastructure, government services, and aid facilities.
ARDD believes Yemen can become a model post-conflict state. Given the existing under-developed and inadequate structures and systems already in place, the impoverished yet resource-rich country is arguably a blank slate. Existing opportunities in Yemen are obstructed by the conflict and its grave humanitarian ramifications but remain however, present.
Every strategy and plan that extends beyond civilian’s immediate emergency needs must take into account the ultimate objective of facilitating Yemen’s path to self-sufficiency. This is premised upon the indisputable right of Yemen’s citizens to be consulted and involved in the process; and where applicable, take the lead in developing the structures and systems necessary to move their country in the direction they see fit. Instilling hope and belief that they can and will make effectual change in line with their aspirations is a step towards the empowerment of the people of Yemen to reach their full potential. It can prove to be the right time to renewal and hope of humanitarian activism once described as the Arab Spring.
"Citizens need to get their voices heard to achieve the Arab Renaissance"
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Laila Muharram Rey
Ghaleb Mattar, a Jordanian professional working in ARDD, was recently been granted a scholarship to attend a Peace and Conflict course in Cologne, Germany. Our colleague has provided support in the Gender Justice Unit’s projects during the last few months, supervising the field work in progress and gaining new knowledge on women’s rights and conflict management skills. In the following lines, he shares his feedback about the challenges and his impressions of this work experience and its impact on his next career move.
“When I started working in ARDD, I was lacking basic knowledge and terminology on gender equality. This opportunity has changed the way I perceive human rights, particularly women’s rights, and has influenced my upcoming professional projects.” Ghaleb has deepened his understanding of the importance of educating women and being engaged on social issues. “Women are half of the society, so if we don’t educate women, we create a gap for the entire country”, Mattar explained.
Ghaleb, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from the University of Jordan and a Master’s Degree on International Relations from UK Coventry University, has also been trained on non-violent community facilitation. Throughout the workshops, he has developed new skills in conflict resolution and active listening. “During the courses I have learnt about the different kinds of conflict and the perceptions that surround them: how people have different perceptions of the same conflict. Identifying conflict and the types of conflict will definitely help in combating violence.”
When asked about the main tool he has learnt from the workshops, he assured that it is effective communication. “Guiding the efforts through communication effectively builds trust between all sides.” He is now prepared to carry the message back home and become an advocate for peace-building. “There is a potential for peace in Jordan and I will help my country to become a better place to live when I return.”
He acknowledges that big challenges prevent the Arab Renaissance from becoming a reality, but he has confidence about the future. “Citizens need to get their voices heard to achieve the Arab Renaissance. It will take a lot of work to get there. Conflict cannot be solved in a day, so we need to search for a long-term solution step by step.”
Ghaleb, you will be greatly missed at ARDD and all of our team is wishing you all the best in your new endeavor.
The Arab Renaissance Organization for Democracy and Development (ARDD) will host the fifth edition of the Arab Renaissance Forum on Wednesday, 23/08/2017, titled "The Palestinian Question ... Today, and What Next?" This topic is related to one of the most pressing issues in Arab politics. The main speaker will be Palestinian researcher Dr. Anis Qassim, the founder of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights. Dr.Qassim will discuss several important issues related to the Palestinian issue and its relation to the regional situation and the new American administration, and Jordanian-Palestinian relations. The session will be moderated by Dr. Mohannad Mubaydin - Professor of Modern History at the University of Jordan.
Dr.Qassim was chosen as an advisor to the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid Conference in 1991 and the Washington negotiations, but resigned before signing the Oslo Accords. He was also a member of the Palestinian Defense Authority before the International Court of Justice in the “Apartheid Wall” case. Dr. Qassim founded the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights. He is the chairman of the Legal Aid Fund for the Defense of Palestinian Prisoners. He is the editor and advisor of the Palestinian Yearbook of International Law.
By organizing the monthly Arab Renaissance Forum, ARDD promotes the values of the Arab Renaissance; dignity, solidarity, equality and pluralism. The event aims to reflect what the Arab Renaissance means for the awakening in Arab societies in terms of culture, education, politics, economy, arts and music. And more so; we debate about what should be done to keep the movement going.
ARDD stands in full solidarity with the Spanish people in light of the recent attacks
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), as a member organization in the Observatory to Prevent Extremist Violence (OPEV) in Jordan, joins the international community standing in full solidarity with the Spanish people in light of the recent violent extremist attacks in Las Ramblas and Cambrils.
ARDD condemnsin the strongest terms the illegal, immoral, and inhumane actions of the perpetrators against innocent civilians. As a committed signatoryto the Barcelona Declaration, the OPEV Jordan stands in full solidarity with people of all nations who are victims of such extremist violence, and equally, unequivocally, condemns all forms of violent extremism and terror-related activities no matter the perpetrator, cause, rationale or motivations.
Through OPEV Jordan, ARDD calls on the international community, State and non-State actors, to abide by their commitments to the Barcelona Declaration, and to plan relevant and context-driven responses, and to establish implementing mechanisms geared towards:
Understanding the full context and cycle of radicalization
Identifying and engaging ALL drivers of violent extremism
Relying less on over-securitization and militarization of policies, and more on addressing root causes of violent extremism
Qualitative evidence highlightsspecific recurrent drivers, some of which are generally ignored by governments and security experts, but which nonetheless, are root causes and often times intertwined. These include, but are not limited to:
Marginalization and discrimination of entire communities by government authorities employing harsh political and economic restrictions
Political terror, violations of human rights and rule of law by the State; sustained poor governance coupled with repressive measures against citizens
Lack of socioeconomic opportunities for the poor, disenfranchised youth
Prolonged and unresolved conflicts; including lack of resolution of structural conflicts – military occupation, permanent state of war, refugee crises, etc.
Indoctrination in prisons; usually as a result of harsh, inhumane treatment of inmates, including torture
We want to stress that to continuously “raise awareness” without meaningful follow up action exacerbates the challenges and frustrates efforts on the ground; making mitigation and resolution ever more difficult to achieve.
We believe these challenges can be resolved, but they require a sincere “all of society” in partnership with “all of government” effort.
These challenges demand that we engage ALL drivers of violence and extremism; rather than focus primarily on the more sensationalist-driven jihadi context. Militarized and repressive security measures have proven wholly inadequate. Yet billions continue to be wasted to perpetuate this failed response; the mere fact that militarization and harsh security measures are a response speaks for itself. Instead, we advocate for the promotion of democracy, justice and human rights as an effective response.
We stress, again, that the international community and global leadership must commit more resources to address all root causes and drivers of extremism. The research is plentiful and the facts undeniable.
Finally, we offer our heart-felt condolences to the relatives and friends of those killed, and deeply mourn the loss of precious human life. We pray for the full mental, physical and emotional recovery of those injured and of any whom may have been traumatized by the incidents.
Gender-sensitive approach needed for psychosocial support to be effective
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Christien van den Brink
Preventing sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) will only be effective when programs start to take into account the different coping mechanisms that men and women have developed to deal with their mental problems, ARDD believes.
Stigma surrounding mental illness is unfortunately widespread in the middle east. While women often suffer from psychological problems such as depression from boredom or anxiety caused by harassment; men face acute stress and frustration due to the responsibilities that are being given to them, often from a very young age onwards. And although common, it is still quite rare for both men and women to seek psychosocial support to face their problems.
ARDD, through its programs, supports both men and women to seek psychosocial support. For example, in Accessing My Rights, a ten-month project, funded by the United Nations Oﬃce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aﬀairs (OCHA) – Jordan Humanitarian Fund, aims to support vulnerable Syrian and Jordanian women and girls, as well as survivors of SGBV to access justice and to strengthen community support networks and protection systems.
The project seeks to increase community knowledge about women’s rights and SGBV prevention and to strengthen the current protection systems for SGBV survivors. The project includes three components: Awareness raising on legal rights and psychosocial support; Provision of individual legal and psychosocial consultations and referral of women to economic empowerment programs and emergency cash assistance.
Syrian refugee women in Jordan, especially those from the rural areas, are generally secluded in the home as cultural norms restrict them from leaving the house. They are often prohibited from most forms of female employment (CARE, 2013b). According to Syrian refugees in Jordan, women are more likely to be harassed by local men (International Rescue Committee [IRC], 2013; CARE, 2013b). Furthermore, the cultural standard that women are responsible for homecare makes them more likely to stay indoors and look after their children.
As a result of this cultural seclusion, women tend to suffer more from psychological problems such as depression from boredom and the fear of being harassed on the street. That fear may cause women to lack incentives to leave the house in pursuit of mental healthcare.
While harassment is reduced when women are accompanied by an older male relative, adult males are often absent from some families as they have either remained in Syria to fight, passed away, or travelled to look for better opportunities for their families. This makes life even more difficult for the widowed women or female headed households, as it compels them to find a way to provide for themselves and their children.
When the women do leave the house, they are expected to be accompanied by a male member of the family which is problematic if the man is the source of her distress. Moreover, a male chaperone might not always be available or convinced that she needs mental health assistance. When it comes to trauma from SGBV or domestic violence caused by a husband, gender cultural norms can prevent women from reporting abuse as it is considered a family matter that should not be made public (IRC, 2013). Thus, women may feel that reporting the trauma caused by such an event is without avail and that healthcare officials would turn them away or even take advantage of their vulnerability.
Men often deal differently with their anxieties. A common manifestation of stress in men is violence, which is justified or explained away as being ‘manly’ behaviour. Other concerns reported among Syrian male adult refugees were anxiety, psychosis, acute stress and mood disorders (IMC & UNICEF, 2013).
ARDD Psychologist Dr. Lina Darras reported seeing confused behaviour among some of the male teens in her sessions. They were often the ones being responsible for their households, once their father was away. Since they are not yet adults and do not immediately command the same respect an adult male automatically receives, the attitudes they may encounter from others can cause frustration as they have been placed in a position of power but are not treated accordingly. Additionally, illiteracy due to dropping out of school further exacerbates these boys’ frustrations as they try to keep up with the fast-developing world.
To better prevent SGBV, ARDD recognizes the immediate need to include men in its interventions. Through Accessing My Rights, ARDD launched a media and advocacy campaign, that aims to develop a broader cultural understanding within the community, while speciﬁcally targeting men and boys to encourage them engage in the prevention of SGBV in their communities.
By including men, ARDD provides a role for men as change makers within their communities. Too often, humanitarian assistance is directed at populations believed to be the most vulnerable. Women and children are overwhelmingly regarded as more vulnerable than men despite the challenges that men endure. (Turner, 2016). However, this results in men feeling left out due to the number of services targeting women and children and the limited number of services targeting them. Moreover, since men are perceived as a threat or the main cause of distress, health workers might treat them differently by being harsher or less sympathetic towards them compared to women and children (Turner, 2016).
Throughout its programs, ARDD provides psychosocial support, to both women and men by providing them with safe spaces to encourage emotional self-expression. ARDD also focuses on stress management specifically for men and provides alternative ways to deal with stress during the psychosocial support sessions. Dr. Lena: “For women, we see that the psychosocial support sessions have supported them to develop themselves, raise their self-esteem, rely more on themselves and become more self-confident.”
Only by providing these alternative gender-sensitive coping mechanisms for both women and men, SGBV prevention programs can be effective.