Combating digital harms amid humanitarian crisis: a pilot project empowering Yemeni youth.

Logo for Siraj.With this pilot project, we’re refining our playbook for combating digital harms amid humanitarian crisis. Siraj harnesses proven AI-supported methods for mitigating scams and mis/disinformation. But its real innovation lies in how it empowers Yemeni youth to help. Siraj equips young local “champions” and “sentinels” to support both early detection and community-level responses to digital harms.

Digital harms can ravage people and communities in crisis zones. In Yemen, we see disinformation fuelling gender-based and sectarian violence, corroding public health efforts, and eroding trust in humanitarian actors. We see online scams, blackmail and other digital attacks harming people at their most vulnerable. Every day, we also see digital channels being weaponized against ordinary Yemenis—by extremists on all sides of conflict.

We are delivering this pilot project alongside engaged youth in Yemen’s besieged city of Taiz. With guidance from our team, they are proactively flagging disinformation in local channels for central analysis of scope and impact, using AI tools and workflows. Then with those insights in hand, young Yemenis are learning to mitigate digital harms in their community—online through social media and offline through local radio.

SIRAJ is an Arabic word meaning lantern or candle. It evokes the strength of our youth champions and sentinels, shining a light through the fog of digital harms and disinformation.

Based on this experience in Yemen, we continue to refine the Siraj model that connects frontline sentinels with AI-supported overwatch. On the road ahead, Siraj could be scaled up in difficult contexts across the Middle East and North Africa—and potentially beyond. Because this could make a real difference in the lives of millions of people.

Siraj is a partnership between [email protected] and the Taiz-based Sheba Youth Foundation. It benefits from The SecDev Foundation’s digital-resilience capacity-building expertise—along with disinformation analytics from The SecDev Group, with financial and technical support from Grand Challenges Canada.

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Siraj on Facebook (Arabic)