Donors pledge $ 4b aid to Yemen |
Khaleej Times - 24 May, 2012
Saudi Arabia and Western and Gulf states pledged more than $ 4 billion in aid to Yemen at a Riyadh conference two days after more than 90 Yemeni soldiers were killed in a suicide attack, deepening concerns about Al Qaeda’s presence in the country.
In a statement issued in London, seven aid agencies called for urgent food and other aid to head off a humanitarian disaster. They said almost a half of Yemen’s population did not have enough to eat
At the Riyadh conference, Saudi Arabia pledged $ 3.25 billion of a total $ 4 billion in aid.
Riyadh, which already provides oil and military aid to its neighbour, convened Western and Arab Gulf nations in a lavish new hotel hung with crystal chandeliers to see how they can help Yemen push ahead with reforms and tackle its poverty and lawlessness. “I assert one more time our support to Yemen to back all the phases of the political initiative to help achieve security, stability and prosperity in facing the threats of extremism and terrorism,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told envoys.
The donor group, which is co-chaired by Britain, was discussing political developments since President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in February, ending his three-decade rule in the Arabian Peninsula state after nearly a year of mass protests.
Another meeting, specifically directed at aid pledges, will be held in Riyadh in late June, with a ministerial meeting to follow on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“The future for Yemen is not about one-off donations. The future for Yemen is about the process that’s already been set in train for the transition of that country,” said British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt after the meeting. Burt said Britain had pledged an additional $ 44 million on top of its existing aid to Yemen.
“More than $ 4 billion was pledged today. But the significance of today was it was important to reconfirm the support of such a large group of countries for Yemen,” Burt said.
Monday’s attack on a military parade was the latest violent incident in a country wracked by political turmoil, where the army has split into rival factions and much of the south has fallen under the control of militia allied to Al Qaeda’s local wing.
Saudi Arabia and Western countries have watched with mounting alarm as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, has taken advantage of the lawlessness to set up a base capable of planning sophisticated international attacks.
“This (aid) shows the Yemeni-Saudi relationship is quite strong and Saudi Arabia is cognizant that the stability of Saudi Arabia depends on that of Yemen,” said Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr Al Qirbi.
Wednesday’s Riyadh donor meeting was aimed at strengthening the Yemeni state and returning a semblance of economic stability to the country.