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Compensation

As mentioned above, the idea of restitution as a central element of reconciliation is relatively strong. Based on historical experience, even if people do not frame it as a prerequisite for reconciliation, it is always one of the most significant demands of those who have suffered during war. How do they get their land, farms and businesses back? To what extent, if any, can relatives be compensated for the loss of loved ones? How can those seriously injured or chronically ill receive some form of tangible recognition? If securing a meaningful peace in the short to medium term requires identifying deliverable peace dividends, then restitution and compensation almost certainly must figure in those plans. 

Survey respondents were given a choice of three types of compensation: financial compensation, moral compensation (such as an apology), and rehabilitation (psychological or community rehabilitation). In five out of nine governorates (Shabwah, Al-Hodeidah, Sana’a, Hajjah and Al-Dhale’e) the largest number of survey respondents opted for financial compensation. In Hajjah and Al-Dhale’e, more than half of the respondents selected this option. In the remaining four governorates (Taiz, Al-Maharah, Aden and Ma’rib), psychological or community rehabilitation was preferred. However, only in Taiz did half of the respondents choose this option. While the idea of moral compensation did not compare with either financial or rehabilitative measures in any of the governorates, 13–36 per cent of the respondents in each governorate identified this as their preferred type of compensation. In Shabwah, it ranked second. 

Figure 5. Type of Compensation, Top Three Answers per Governate

Note: Percentages based on answers to survey Q22: ‘What kind of compensation would you suggest?’

Interviewees in Aden were roughly equally divided over relying on compensation to achieve reconciliation. Opponents believed that compensation cannot restore the lives of those killed and insisted on punishing the perpetrators, but the majority believed that compensation can still play a role and prioritised financial and moral compensation (for example in the form of acknowledgment and apology). 

In general, the manner in which participants engaged with the idea of compensation indicates that it requires further examination, including to understand how it relates to the prospects for different types of reconciliation. It is not uncommon for participants in such surveys and consultations to indicate that financial compensation is highly desirable because it is seen to have a direct positive impact, especially in the context of conflict and crises. However, the degree to which moral rehabilitation was emphasised in some of the governorates, as seen in Figure 5, makes it important to investigate what it means concretely – for both individuals and communities. This could, for instance, include mental health programmes for individuals or initiatives to reintegrate prisoners or combatants, including children, into communities.