x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The UAE comes to Yemen's rescue

Abu Dhabi is now one of the main contributors of aid to Sanaa, whose already weak economy has been further debilitated by political unrest.

Yemeni women in Sanaa sit next to sacks of food aid provided by the UAE.
Yemeni women in Sanaa sit next to sacks of food aid provided by the UAE.

Yemen is desperately in need of assistance - and much of it is coming from the UAE.

The UAE Red Crescent Authority led the way in contributions to Yemen last year with approximately Dh200 million in donations, making the troubled republic the No1 recipient of the authority's aid.

"We need more help than before," said Abdulhakim Al-Eryani, a consular officer at the Yemeni Embassy in Abu Dhabi. "More than one year of damage will take many more years to recover from."

Continued protests and conflict have resulted in almost half of the Yemeni population being undernourished, and 5m need immediate attention.

"Some of the biggest problems are food, electricity and gas," Mr Al-Eryani said. The water supply has also been greatly affected by Yemen's instability. Water availability is among the most limited in the world.

More than 30 per cent of the country's water supply systems are not functional, with Sanaa forecasted to become the world's first capital to run out of water, according to a report by the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA).

Earlier this summer, Yemen's dire situation prompted a group of seven international charities to issue a joint warning, asking the global community to contribute emergency aid.

The UAE, as it has countless times in the past, heeded the call.

A few weeks after the announcement, Sheikh Khalifa, the President, ordered Dh500m to be spent on buying food items from Yemeni establishments. The money was not only to help alleviate the suffering of millions of undernourished people, but also to stimulate the local economy. "This humanitarian gesture of the UAE leadership reflects the deep-rooted fraternal ties between the UAE and Yemen," the Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi said in a subsequent meeting with Abdullah Al Mazroui, the UAE Ambassador to Yemen.

The UAE Government's contribution was in addition to the Dh292.1m that UAE donors had already disbursed in 2011, according to the OCFA.

Red Crescent aid to Yemen increased from 136.5m in 2009 to almost Dh300m in 2011.

"We operate in Yemen under any circumstances and we strive to make our services on par with the challenges that the country is facing," said Dr Mohammed Alfalahi, secretary general of the UAE Red Crescent.

"We support the Yemeni people in the good times and the bad times alike. In fact, we increased our efforts there in order to help them to improve their way of life."

OFCA's aid to Yemen comes in the form of relief efforts as well as medical, educational and constructive assistance, and development projects.

One of the projects is Sheikh Khalifa City in Hadramaut and Al Malka, which is to house victims of the 2008 floods.

The Red Crescent provided 1,000 houses at a cost of Dh100m after torrential rains from a 2008 cyclone killed almost 100 and displaced more than 25,000 residents.

Another project is the Mazraq 2 camp for internally displaced peoples (IDP) in the northern governorate of Hajjah, providing shelter for more than 7,000 people who were displaced by the conflict between rebels and government forces in the neighbouring Saada governorate.

It is the only IDP/refugee camp in the country that is not underfunded. Its tents provide fans and round-the-clock electricity, among other services, according to the United Nations news agency IRIN.

"We need this aid to continue," said Mr Al-Eryani. "It will take a lot of time for Yemen to become stable once again. At that time, we are the ones who hope we can help others."

Although Yemen could not repay to the Emirates in a monetary or material way, Mr Al-Eryani said that the UAE had won the Yemeni people's hearts.

"Emiratis are more than brothers to us, and they will always have our support," he said, adding that Yemen had never felt abandoned by the UAE or its leaders.

"We appreciate their help and will remember it forever."

talsubaihi@thenational.ae

 

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