Interview with director Waleed Muhammed El-Bashir Save the Children (Sweden) has active role in Yemen [Archives:2004/784/Community]

October 25 2004
Waleed El-Bashir
Waleed El-Bashir
Ismail Al-Ghabiri
Save the Children Sweden fight for children's rights and influence public opinion and support children at risk in Sweden and all over the world. It is guided by the fundamental values stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Convention on Child Rights which is founded on the conviction that all children and adults are equal. Children have special rights; everyone has a responsibility to respect and promote rights of the child, but the state has particular obligations.
To talk about the humanitarian aids and programs conducted by the organization in Yemen, our colleague Ismail Al-Ghabri from the Yemen Times met with Waleed Muhammed El-Bashir, director of Save the Children Sweden in Yemen.

Historical background
Save the Children Sweden has been active in the Arab World since 1963 when it opened its first office in Yemen. At that time, its work focused on service provisions and capacity building that addressed child development, health and survival. Its outlook into the country programs has since evolved into more developmental and child right perspectives.
The program in Yemen now spans several projects at local, national levels, tackling issues related to racist discrimination, child protection, education, child rights advocacy, child participation and more.

Q: What are the goals of the organization?
A: We work for the promotion and realization of children's rights in general. As for protection, we work for the protection of children against discrimination, against abuse and exploitation and against violence.

Q: How do you assess the work of your organization in Yemen after 41 years?
A: The priorities of work in Yemen changes according to the situation and evolving needs and also as per the priority of interventions set by the head office in Stockholm. SCS started with pure health activities running hospitals with Swedish staff at the beginning. Now we more support local organizations and Government deportments to so they have the capacity themselves to rum the programs. The focus is now on children's rights. I general, we feel satisfied with our contribution but the real evaluation should come from the local community including the children themselves and also from the partner organizations and government authorities.

Q: What projects have you accomplished in Yemen?
A: The organization now implements projects focusing on:
– Inclusion of children with disability and other marginalized groups in normal education.
– Juvenile justice
– Monitoring and reporting on children's rights
– Support to the Somali Refugee Children

Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We will continue supporting inclusion of marginalized children in normal education, we will increasingly address violence against children, support the capacity building of our partners, promote the participation of girls and boys in all activities and support their own organizations and keep supporting the implementation of the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Q: What is the objective of the organization in humanitarian work?
A: Our vision is a world where all children's rights have been realised.
Save the Children works for a world:
* which respects and values each child.
* where all children participate and have influence.
* where all children have hope and opportunity.

Q: How do you coordinate with other concerned authorities in Yemen?
A: We work very closely with the Higher Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Ministries of Education, Human rights, Judiciary, Social Affairs, Labour and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. At the same time we also coordinate with UNICEF and UNHCR and implement joint activities. The Social Fund for Development is a new influential actor and we also work together. So far, there is a reasonable level of coordination but we always seek more as it increases impact and reduce time, effort and maximize utilization of resources.

Q: What is your role in the combat of child labour?
A: The organization lobbied and advocated for the UNCRC optional protocols on child soldiers and child labour. We work against the worst form of child labour and advocate against children's economical exploitation and social. Save the Children Sweden was the first to write about child labour in Yemen and other countries. Now we are discussing with the committee set at the Ministry of Labour to combat child labour.

Q: Do you have any last comment?
A: I appreciate the role that the Yemen Times is taking in shedding light on the activities of humanitarian organizations in Yemen.