Al-Sosowa: “Yemen needs a cultural as well as a political transition”
However, her concern for Yemen is even beyond the political transition; since she deeply understands Yemen, she realizes that the country is inevitability heading towards not only an economic but also a cultural crisis that no one seems to be taking note of.
“Tremendous conscious efforts need to be urgently made, as a priority, to readjust Yemenis from a culture of violence and instability to one of peace, reconstruction, tolerance and forgiving” said Al-Sosowa, also former Yemeni Minister of Human Rights.
Signs of social tensions are already visible in the Internally Displaced Persons’ communities across the country, and are becoming more prominent in poor segments of the society.
“The main issue for me is that economic deterioration especially in the public sector where millions of state employees may not be able to receive their salaries in the coming months, may lead to an unanticipated national crisis,” she said.
Raising this red flag, Al-Sosowa mentioned that at least $1.5 billion needs to be injected into the national budget without delay. This, as an immediate emergency measure should be followed by more sustainable strategies for both economic and social development.
“When it comes to development indicators, I am afraid Yemen is not only not progressing according to the Millennium Development Goals, but it will take us years and much effort to just go back to where we were a year ago,” she said.
Despite the reality check Al-Sosowa made during her meetings with officials, diplomats, civil society, women and youth, she says there is yet much hope for Yemen.
A heartwarming experience was when she met with so many Yemeni youth both men and women coming from various governorates and coming from diverse political and cultural backgrounds.
“It was amazing how civil and democratic the discussion was. The one hour meeting extended to three and I found myself impressed by the intellect, responsible talk and ownership those youth had towards their country,” she said.
Her impression was that those are capable youth who want to be part of making the future of this country. They demanded no less than 50 percent participation in all committees of the transitional period based on the fact that youth represent more than 60 percent of the population.
“They were worried that they would be excluded as usual because decision makers are old school and used to managing politics in their traditional ways. This is why I have made it a point to convey the youth and women’s concerns of being excluded to every official I meet privately and publically,” said the UN Assistant Administrator.
This was the main message that she repeated throughout her visit to Yemen this time;
“The time is more than right for Yemenis in general and women and youth in particular to really translate their aspirations and engage fully so that Yemen could finally put its feet in the new era.”
This attitude of inclusion needs to be integrated in the national dialogue and peace building mechanisms.
“Yemenis can do it [transition Yemen into recovery] on their own. They are capable and with little help from its friends and neighbors who announce that they love Yemen, they can do it,” concluded al-Sosowa.