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Bringing the Children Home – Developing Community Capacity for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)

Facilitate and enable CVE programs in schools in southern Yemen to protect their youth from radicalization and extremist recruitment.

Photo of Zrinka
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The ongoing conflict in Yemen, and the negative effect it has had on all overall society has created fertile ground for violent extremist radicalization. Despite national and international efforts to defeat groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (IS), extremists remain active. AQAP and IS continue to target vulnerable and disaffected segments of the population and with an estimated 70% of children no longer attending school, AQAP and IS have a large group of the population to target and recruit. Considering the mentioned, our project idea will focus on the most vulnerable group – the children. We will leverage our existing relationships with local political, tribal and military leaders to establish schools and programs for preventing radicalization and for reintegrating de-radicalized members from tribes and local communities. Our program has two objectives: first, focusing on children who may be vulnerable to radicalization but have not yet been radicalized. The program will teach children about the consequences of radicalization and subsequent impact on their lives and their families. This way it would be achieved that children refuse radicalization in case they come in touch with it. The second would be focused on children that are already radicalized but with the assistance of tribes are pulled back in the society. These groups of children need to go through de-radicalization programs that will be developed in accordance with understanding what led them to join radicals groups at the first place.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries of this project are children between the ages of 5-18 years, their families, local communities and tribes directly affected by or vulnerable to extremist radicalization. At the project’s initial stage, a CVE assessment will focus on both male and female youth (ages 5-18 years) to understand how each group is vulnerable to radicalization and extremist recruitment. While AQAP has traditionally not allowed females to take part in their activities, other extremist groups, such as ISIS have sought to radicalize, recruit and exploit women. Thus, the project will identify the unique vulnerabilities associated with both population segments, and develop measures to mitigate risk to young men and women while simultaneously sensitizing all segments of local communities and tribes to the risk of extremist recruitment in the most vulnerable areas of southern Yemen.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Presently, the majority of international organizations in Yemen are focused on meeting immediate, life-essential needs of the population, such as shelter, food, clean water, and medicine. While these programs are essential to saving lives, they do not in and of themselves contribute to solving one of the key problems facing Yemen today – the persistent presence and influence of violent extremism in local society.

Few, if any, organizations are making a concerted effort to focus on CVE through education campaigns. Effective CVE programs will empower local communities and tribes to push back against AQAP, IS and other extremist groups.

It is Future Forum’s established relationships with influential community and government leaders in southern Yemen, and their interest in facilitating CVE in their respective communities, that provide a competitive advantage and unique opportunity to effect positive change at this critical time.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Future Forum is a Croatian NGO established by professionals with extensive experience in conflict-mapping, peace-building, stabilization and post-conflict recovery.
URL: http://www.futureforumonline.org

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Two decades ago the former Yugoslavia was embroiled in conflict that had significant impact on societal development, particularly young children, especially boys. Today, Balkan is faced with an increasing number of young men and boys who have joined, or are prone to joining radical networks worldwide. Visiting Yemen and interacting with local community we could notice that things are moving faster and children became already vulnerable. So, why not to try help now and not wait 20 years?

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has significant impact on daily life in this war-torn country. With the increased number of children who are leaving schools and joining radical groups, such as IS and AQAP, peace, prosperity and security of the society were brought on the minimum level. Children have turned against their tribes and communities and they are even conducting attacks against them which has direct impact on the peace and stability. On the other hand with new generations that replaced school with battlefields and do not have proper level of education and knowledge it is hard to expect the development and prosperity of the overall society. Besides, peace and prosperity the planet has been also impacted by the radicalization of children, which creates unstable and insecure environment not only in the Yemeni society but worldwide as well.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The establishment of CVE schools and programs is impossible to carry out without the interaction with local community and tribal leaders. The role of tribal leaders and elders is so strong in the Yemeni society that without their support and contribution these types of activities would not be able to achieve. On the other hand, children who came in touch with radicalization or who became members of IS or AQAP do not have confidence in people, so tribal leaders will play a significant role in winning their trust to become part of mentioned programs and schools. Therefore, local community will be involved from the start, including students' family members. Family plays significant role in radicalization and de-radicalization process and due to that it is more than necessary to include them in these types programs.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Today, opportunities for Yemeni youth is brought on the minimum level. Either they are leaving country or they are staying and fighting. The same scenario happened 28 years ago in the Western Balkans region. The knowledge and experience that we unfortunately have can help local communities in Yemen. With full support of local community and their willingness to move forward this project idea can help them to go back where they belong - to their communities and schools.

Geographic Focus

This idea will be implemented in the Republic of Yemen.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project idea will be implemented within 24 months. After 24 months local communities will take over the implementation of the mentioned programs and schools so additional 12 months will be used only for implementation supervision and monitoring.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

4 comments

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Comment
Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi Zrinka,

What type of CVE programs are you thinking of undertaking in Yemen today? Given the on-going conflict and violence I would strongly recommend including trauma-informed approaches to breaking the cycle of violence. It is almost easy to understand given what Yemen is going through currently to understand why young men and women would wish to join a VE movement. Many would tell you that they had no choice. We know that one of the results of violence and it's resulting trauma limits a young persons ability to see choice. Many young men and women who join a radical movement will tell you, "I had no choice." Here is a program we are using in both Kenya and in Somalia as a social healing and CVE program. During the programming youth begin to understand violence is a choice and by choosing violence they are expanding the cycle of violence and creating new victims who will become tomorrow perpetrators. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqoyugRefWU&t=32s . If you would like more information about how to develop trauma-informed CVE programs and interventions, please feel free to get in touch.

Angi.

Photo of Zrinka
Team

Hi Angi,

I totally agree with you, trauma healing will be included for sure. From the experience that we have in our region trauma plays significant role because even today we have cases where young men and women joined because of the events that happened 20 years ago. Currently, we are developing CVE programs in cooperation with local tribes and communities and what we have heard there have also been cases where children from respective families have joined VE groups. However, because of the lack of experience in CVE programs they do not know how to approach them and reintegrate them back in the society. Saw the youtube video and that is one part we are planning to implement. It would be great to hear about your trauma-informed CVE programs in Kenya and Somalia. Any advice is more than welcome. Maybe we can stay in touch over e-mail?

Best,

Zrinka

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Please contact me angi@green-string.org -- it is a foundational part of developing a CVE program.

Angi.

Photo of Zrinka
Team

Thank you Angi.

Zrinka