Training Peacebuilders in Yemen

by International Center for Religion & Diplomacy

Update on Program Activities

ICRD has been continuing its work to empower local Yemeni religious, tribal, and other community leaders to address conflicts and violent extremism in their communities. Last week, another training program was conducted by one of our trainees for 13 young people in Aden. These efforts have now engaged around 400 Yemeni men and women from Abyan, Aden, Taiz, Sana’a, and Ibb.

This program has also worked to support local community projects designed and led by trainees to address issues of conflict or violent extremism in their communities. One of these projects was recently completed in an area in Abyan that had previously been taken over by Al-Qaeda. A training program graduate worked with local leaders to build a piping system to provide water to local villages to prevent escalation of a water conflict.  These leaders engaged local youth deemed vulnerable to extremist recruitment in installing the pipes—providing job skills and a sense of civic responsibility—and subsequently trained these same youth on skills in peacebuilding and addressing violent extremism. 

As a result, these youth are now taking the initiative to resolve local conflicts and have formed their own local youth association to work on peacebuilding. The community now has a greater sense of security, does not have to send its children to walk for miles in dangerous conditions to draw water from wells, and expects that people who had left the area due to lack of water will now return. Further, the community has realized that they have the power to address their own needs and do not need to rely on militant groups like Al-Qaeda to address them. The following insights from community members are indicative:

We continue to seek your support to continue and expand this work—particularly to support our local partners in training religious preachers on peacebuilding, addressing violent extremism, and tolerance-building; and conducting outreach in schools and with at-risk youth on these topics. Please continue to help us implement this critical work.

ICRD - Yemen Project: 7th Quarter Report 2016

By Rebecca Cataldi - Program Manager

Update on Program Activities

This summer and fall, our Yemen programs expanded to include further training programs, conducted by Yemenis trained in our Training of Trainers (ToT), for people from the governorates of Abyan, Aden, Taiz, Ibb, and Sana’a. Participants trained on the topics of conflict resolution, addressing violent extremism (AVE), and (in some workshops) religious tolerance and freedom have included religious, tribal, and other community leaders; leaders of civil society organization (CSOs); members of political groups; educators; and others. Additionally, trainees have begun conducting community meetings to engage members of their wider communities in dialogue to assess challenges to peacebuilding, promoting religious tolerance and freedom, and mitigating violent extremism, and what can be done to address these challenges.

This effort has engaged more than 300 Yemeni participants to date, including 87 women and at least 97 youth. The response to the programs has been highly positive. Below are some examples of program impact. 

  • One local CSO in Aden, whose representative was trained in the ICRD ToT, had ceased activities for more than a year due to the war, and had been afraid to resume any activities. However, with the ICRD program, the training alleviated their concerns and encouraged the team to resume the work, because they felt that the Adeni community are [sic] in a dire need for their work, particularly that the foundation[‘s] vision is to disseminate the culture of dialogue, coexistence and tolerance among [the] community” (workshop report). 
  • This CSO subsequently raised additional funding on its own to carry out follow-on programming. It held an additional community meeting in another district to discuss peacebuilding, coexistence, religious tolerance, and religious freedom, and an additional training workshop on peacebuilding and AVE.  
  • Following a training in Taiz, participants established a ‘Peacemakers’ Council’, the mission of which is to “disseminate the culture of tolerance, coexistence and peace.” The Council has decided to focus on resolving conflicts, building the capacity of social leaders, and raising awareness of the dangers of violent extremism, particularly among mosque preachers and students vulnerable to extremist recruitment.
  • In collaboration with this Council, a local CSO whose representative was trained in the ToT subsequently raised additional funds from the community and conducted another training on AVE and religious tolerance for 30 mosque preachers. Graduates subsequently preached about these issues in their Friday sermons the following week, emphasizing the role of the community in countering violent extremism. 
  • "I attended several workshops, but in this workshop, the training changed my concepts in different topics. I understood violent extremism and religious freedom in [a] different way, but now my knowledge and understanding for such topics changed; the training material was extensive and I can get benefit of it in my work as a trainer."
  • “Before [the] training I had no information, knowledge or skills in resolving conflicts, but now I am thinking to resolve conflicts using knowledge, skills and analysis tools; I can now differentiate between positions, interests and needs.”
  • “The training workshop was very interesting because we have learnt different topics in conflict resolution, religious tolerance, mediation, arbitration, and rights and freedom of minorities. The topics were very useful especially in [the current] situation and the absence of the state and its institutions.”
  • “I can say that the training which was held in Sana’a has succeeded in integrating between the traditional system and the scientific modern approach, and for participants they have gain[ed] a lot of new skills especially in the essential principle of solving disputes and how they can differentiate between situation, interests, and needs . . . And also methods of analyzing problems and its [sic] solving. We have noticed reaction and acceptance, [and] understanding from participants, they also could apply it to the reality successfully.”
  • “All participants from [our] network expressed their happiness and willingness to convey what they have learn[ed] to the members of their organizations and they will apply the topic of counter violence extremism [sic] to future training and this topic will [be] part of the organization’s agenda in [the] future to address the current need in their communities to fight and struggle against extremism and they will work for any possible solution to eradicate this issue inside the community…”
  • “Participants emphasized that they are going reflect what they have learned to their society adopting the new skills and styles which they have acquired during the training, because the topics especially that related to the violence and extremism are the most needy topics nowadays in our society because of the spread of Al-Qaida among the society and due to the absence of security and role of law…” 
  • Training topics touched our current condition and raised our knowledge on different topics. The most beautiful thing was to find solutions for particular conflicts, moreover, we participated in drawing the current condition of Yemen and another beautiful picture for the future of Yemen. Pictures and discussions raised our optimism, persistence and determination that the future of Yemen will be much better.”

We remain deeply grateful for your support, which has been critical to the success of this work. As we enter the next stages of both expanding the trainings and supporting local trainee- and community-led projects to address conflict and violent extremism, your continued support will be instrumental. Please continue to help us implement this critical work.

With warmest regards,

Rebecca Cataldi

ICRD Program Manager - Yemen

ICRD - Yemen Project: 6th Quarter Report 2016

By Rebecca Cataldi - Program Manager


From July 30-August 1, the second training for Yemenis on conflict resolution and addressing violent extremism (AVE) was conducted in Sana’a. Yemenis who had been trained by ICRD in the first training in Amman trained 25 others—including religious leaders, other community leaders, and youth from Abyan, Aden, and Sana’a—in similar skills, incorporating what they had learned in the Amman training with indigenous methods.


Key training topics in the Sana’a workshop included fundamental principles of conflict resolution, mediation, conflict analysis and problem-solving, understanding causes and warning signs of violent extremism, and intervention strategies for addressing violent extremism. One of the trainers chose to show part of ICRD’s AVE film Back from the Brink to present a case study of Pakistan to the participants, which focuses on the role of education and critical thinking in either driving or mitigating violent extremism.


While the monitoring and evaluation survey results are still being analyzed, initial feedback from the training has been very positive. Participants highlighted conflict analysis, mediation, critical thinking about conflict, and understanding causes of and ways to address violent extremism as particularly areas of learning in the training. They also mentioned that they had been using some of the training concepts or procedures previously, “but in a confused manner”, and that what they had learned in the training would assist them in applying a more systematic approach to conflict resolution.


Overall, participants expressed that what they had learned in the training would be of great help to them in their work, and that “We were happy because we have exchanged knowledge and skills that can be used in our daily life.” They also indicated a desire to share the knowledge and skills they had acquired in the training with others, particularly concepts of conflict analysis, mediation, and addressing violent extremism. Additionally, participants asked for further trainings, highlighting a desire for advanced training in addressing violent extremism.


During the training, participants also began discussing ideas for conducting their community project to address an issue of conflict or violent extremism in Abyan. Further discussions are now underway to flesh out a project plan in more detail, which will be presented to ICRD for feedback and approval. The project is slated to be carried out in September and October.


We remain deeply grateful for your support, which has been critical to the success of this work. As we prepare for the next stages, your continued support will enable us to expand and deepen the reach of the program. Please continue to help us implement this critical work.


With gratitude for your support,


Rebecca Cataldi

ICRD Program Manager - Yemen 

ICRD - Yemen Project: 5th Quarter Report 2016
By Rebecca Cataldi - Program Manager - Yemen

ICRD - Yemen Project: 5th Quarter Report 2016

By Rebecca Cataldi - Program Manager


ICRD is pleased to report that the training program for Yemeni peacemakers on skills for resolving conflict and addressing violent extremism (AVE) was successfully completed from April 23-29, 2016 in Amman, Jordan.  Eleven participants representing five indigenous Yemeni organizations were trained on topics that included core principles of conflict resolution, methods of conflict analysis, problem-solving, mediation, negotiation, reconciliation, addressing violent extremism (including understanding drivers and warning signs, context analysis, strategies and methods of addressing violent extremism, the role of identity and religion in addressing violent extremism, and critical thinking), and training skills.


During the course of the training, participants grappled with issues such as sectarian and political divisions in society, the intersection of religion and politics, the family, economics, education, and ways that all of these can affect conflict and violent extremism. 


Participants reported that they found much useful in the training that they felt they could adapt and integrate—in context-appropriate and culturally sensitive ways—in training others in Yemen and in implementing field projects to address conflict and violent extremism.  In particular, participants found especially useful the concept and practice of active listening, a new model of conflict analysis, the concept of critical thinking, and the AVE frameworks and training tools introduced—including ICRD’s AVE film Back from the Brink which profiles case studies from the United States, Pakistan, and Lebanon.  (The English version can be viewed on our website at ; the Arabic version will also be made available there shortly.)


Many participants mentioned that they would now like to add AVE concepts to the trainings they conduct in Yemen.  One organization, a pioneer and leader in the field of conflict resolution and conflict resolution training in Yemen, now plans to revise its current peace training manual to include AVE concepts.  A participant from the governorate of Taiz who has conducted various peace trainings now plans to include critical thinking in his training for Yemeni lawyers.  A participant from Abyan, a governorate where Al-Qaeda has gained a strong foothold during the ongoing war and has gained some support by implementing its own system of ‘justice’ for addressing conflicts, now wants to include AVE in his trainings and to create new community conflict resolution committees to address local conflicts, which would hopefully create an alternative to turning to militants for justice.


The following sampling reflects participant comments and reflections and is indicative of the impact of the training (see also attachedocument for photo):


“We have thought that the government should be responsible for addressing violent extremism, but now through this training we also see there is so much that we can do to address it through civil society.”


“I learned a lot of things, especially regarding violent extremism, how to address it, warning signs, and critical thinking.”


“This training was very informative.  We have already been applying such concepts but hadn’t had them presented to us in such a strategic way.”


“This training was the best thing I ever had.”


“I’m so glad that this training will not stop here, that we will continue by going back to train others and working in the community.”



It was a long and often-bumpy road to reach this point, with enormous challenges from the war, airport closures, new visa restrictions, funding needs, and security issues.  Inspired by the brave people of Yemen who never gave up in their courageous work for peace, we also refused to give up. 


Your support has been critical to the success of this work, and we are deeply grateful.  In the second and third stages of the project, participants will implement additional training in Yemen for a larger number of indigenous peacemakers, to be followed by a community project in Abyan to address an issue of conflict and/or violent extremism.  As we prepare for these next stages, your continued support will enable us to expand and deepen the reach of the program.  Please continue to help us implement this critical work.



ICRD - Yemen Project: 4th Quarter Report 2016

By Rebecca Cataldi - Program Manager


The war in Yemen continues to cause great humanitarian destruction, particularly to the civilian population. Many programs in Yemen remain suspended or have closed down in light of the new risks and obstacles on the ground.

However, ICRD remains committed to supporting Yemenis and empowering them to more effectively resolve conflicts and build peace in their society. With the reopening of the Yemeni airports, we have begun to renew preparations to bring Yemeni trainees to Jordan for the first training on conflict resolution, countering violent extremism, and training skills, which is being planned for the spring.

To increase impact, we have also increased the number of local organizations whose capacity will be built in above areas and the communities which will be served by the project. We will now be training representatives of four different local organizations rather than one, which are based in the three southern governorates of Abyan, Aden, and Taiz, in addition to the capital Sana’a. It is intended that these initial trainees will then return to train others in their organizations in these same areas of conflict resolution and countering violent extremism, and that some members of these organizations will also be trained in the second-stage training along with local Peace Committee leaders in Abyan. Jointly training these members of various local civil society organizations together will provide additional opportunities for them to enhance their local networks and share lessons learned and best practices.

It is also planned that the additional three organizations trained will also carry out their own local projects to address an issue affecting conflict or violent extremism in their communities, expanding the impact to serve the needs of a larger number of communities across a wider geographic area.

ICRD is in the process of conducting a needs assessment of these additional organizations and will subsequently refine the training curriculum to better address their needs.

In addition to the added costs of moving the training to Jordan, the conflict in Yemen has led to skyrocketing costs of fuel and other resources. We continue to seek funding support to meet these new costs to facilitate our program activities. We are deeply grateful for the generous support to date from the Global Giving community, and hope you will consider making another donation to support moving the training to a safer location in Jordan. Your support will be critical to enable us to meet our remaining funding goal of $13,092.

We are determined not to abandon the Yemenis in their time of greatest need, despite the risks and challenges. Conflict resolution capacity is now needed in Yemen perhaps more than ever before. By supporting this program, you will be helping to empower these brave Yemenis to work against violence and hatred in their communities and to offer a better path to the future. Thank you for your support.


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Organization Information

International Center for Religion & Diplomacy

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Michael Braeuninger
Washington, DC United States

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