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How Insider Mediators are Building Resilient Communities in Yemen Communities

DME for Peace
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In Yemen, nearly 24 million people are in need of humanitarian support or urgent protection.

Years of violent conflict have taken a dire toll, with thousands of civilian casualties, acute food shortages, destroyed infrastructure, and disrupted trade. The war has forced over a million people to flee their homes for safety elsewhere in Yemen, with internally displaced persons (IDPs) forced to adapt to host communities and find ways to survive.

Since 2013, we have trained 1,246 Insider Mediators across nine governorates and 36 districts to resolve problems before they escalate into violence. Today, with funding from the European Union, we are supporting Mediators to navigate conflicts between IDPs, returnees, and hosts in many communities in Yemen.

Our goal is to overcome mistrust and forge resilient communities. Search for Common Ground is working in a consortium led by ACTED, alongside CARE International, the Danish Refugee Council, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the International Rescue Committee.

Across Yemen, our Insider Mediators are working to prevent, manage, and resolve community conflicts—all in hopes of strengthening the social cohesion that ties a community together. In this project, local council authorities start by nominating candidates with a deep understanding of the relationship between IDPs, returnees, and hosts. Mediators start from a place of trust, as they belong to the communities that they serve.

Through training sessions, we teach Insider Mediators to conduct “conflict scans” to analyze local issues, uncovering the root drivers of violence. We then support Mediators to hold dialogue and draft action plans across divides.

In many communities in Yemen, IDPs may have little relationship with government actors, preventing effective communication and policy. Our Insider Mediators not only hold dialogue sessions but also guide people to identify shared challenges and goals. Through this process, we can strengthen trust.

Impartiality is central to the work of Insider Mediators, who do not make judgments about right and wrong but instead help opposing parts to understand needs, differences, and areas of agreement.

Already, Insider Mediators have encountered a variety of conflicts: arguments over public services and resources, harassment complaints, agricultural issues, landlord-tenant disputes, charges of trespassing, and family disagreements, among others. In more delicate, complex situations, Mediators refer cases to the concerned authority.

The impact of Mediators does not end when the dispute is resolved. As the project advances, we will form Community Resolution Committees that will support Insider Mediators and provide a reliable venue for people to navigate disputes—well after the two-year project ends.

After 10 years, millions of people in Yemen have suffered at the hands of violence. Insider Mediators are charting a different path, one case at a time.