Civil society organisations and activists recently convened in Sanaa to demand an end to Yemen's war, saying it has caused enormous economic and social suffering as well as exacerbating the threat from extremist groups.
In its closing statement, the consultative forum on peace in Yemen, held August 9th in Sanaa and organised by the Hammuna al-Yaman (Yemen is our concern) bloc, al-Noman Youth Cultural Forum and Peace Foundation for Humanitarian Response and Development, stressed the need for the establishment of peace.
Participants demanded that all parties, countries and international organisations realise the interest of the Yemeni people through the establishment of peace, co-existence and reconstruction which can only be achieved by ending the war.
They stressed the need to respect human rights under all circumstances, protect children's rights and preserve cultural heritage, which has been targeted by extremist groups seeking to exploit the current circumstances.
Protecting Yemen's children
Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood secretary general Lamya al-Eryani reiterated the council's call for all parties to end the war.
"I call on all parties to spare our country’s children the horrors of their senseless and absurd war and turn to dialogue and negotiations to [bring] peace for a Yemen that Yemen’s children deserve," she told Al-Mashareq.
She also called on all armed groups to stop their recruitment of children.
According to the UN children's fund (UNICEF) and other organisations, she said, "the war has indeed contributed to the emergence and proliferation of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL)'."
"However, child recruitment is an issue that exists and has existed for years with all parties to the fighting in general, and is not a new phenomenon that emerged as a result of the proliferation of terrorist elements," she noted.
During the forum, al-Eryani presented a working paper on the impact of the war on the rights of Yemen's children, which detailed violations children suffered as a consequence of the war in the areas of education, health care and protection.
Documenting war's impact
Yemeni researcher and activist Mohammed Tawwaf presented a working paper on the war’s direct impact on historical sites and the actions of extremist elements, including transgression against and destruction of historic shrines.
General Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry director general Mohammed Qafla presented a working paper on the extent of the damage and economic losses the private sector has incurred as a result of the war.
"We will raise our voices for humanitarian demands that ensure a dignified life and preserve the social fabric of Yemenis by demanding peace in Yemen," said al-Noman Youth Cultural Forum chairman Lutfi al-Noaman.
Peace has become an urgent need in Yemen because "we miss stability and tranquility, and the economic and social suffering have reached extreme limits", he told Al-Mashareq.
Yemenis have the "right to a secure and stable life that is free of concern and is untouched by terrorism", he said, adding that the waves of internal displacement due to the conflict have exacerbated suffering at all levels.
Terrorism results from extremism and the imposition of a single ideology, political analyst Nayef Haidan told Al-Mashareq, calling for peaceful co-existence among all components of Yemeni society.