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Security and Justice Yemen

Facing Two Fronts: COVID-19 amidst the Yemeni Civil War

What are the effects of COVID-19 on prospects for peace and stability in conflict-affected countries? The Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS), hosted by Cordaid, discusses this question with civil society leaders around the globe. Their latest interview is with Maged Sultan from Yemen.

(picture: © Carl Waldmeier)

Most COVID-19 responses prioritise healthcare systems and economies. However, the trickle-down effect of COVID-19 can seriously affect other crucial areas of life, particularly peace and conflict.

CSPPS has launched a series of articles, which zooms in on the role of civil society in supporting local response action. Via interviews with frontline responders, they discuss the short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19 on prospects for peace and stability in their countries.

Sultan recalls asking security forces what procedures were being put in place to prepare emergency security teams in the event of the virus spreading within the city. “Nothing”, was their response.

For the third article in this series, the Secretariat of the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) interviewed Maged Sultan, member of CSPPS and Chair of the Youth Without Borders Organization for Development (YWBOD) in Yemen.

Maged Sultan

“In spite of the pandemic spreading all over the world, the warring parties in Yemen pay no attention to work together to face this crisis. Instead, the violence and armed conflict continue, and each party is trying to gain more political and military victory over the other”, Maged says.

On April 10th, Yemen’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Hadhramaut, sparking panic amongst its incredibly fragile population. To illustrate the extent of this fear, Sultan told us of the many posts on social media that circulated after the announcement of the case, calling for the patient to be killed in order to spare the rest of the population. In a society where the majority of the population owns weapons, a scare like this can easily escalate or result in a much faster spread of the virus when suspected cases are withheld out of fear of the repercussions.

Sultan recalls a meeting he had with security forces two days before our conversation, in which he asked what procedures were being put in place to prepare emergency security teams in the event of the virus spreading within the city. “Nothing”, was their response.

Read the full interview with Maged Sultan.

Read CSPPS’ previous interviews with civil society activists in Liberia and Sierra Leone.