x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Donors pledge $6.4bn to rebuild Yemen

Yemen needs US$11 billion after it was hit by political unrest and an insurgency waged by Al Qaeda.

RIYADH // A group of international donors pledged US$6.4 billion (Dh23.5bn) in aid to Yemen yesterday to help the impoverished country rebuild after it was hit by political unrest and an insurgency waged by Al Qaeda, a senior World Bank official said.

Yemen is in a delicate period of transition to democracy. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule formally ended in February when Abdrabbu Mansour Had was elected under the terms of an agreement crafted by the country’s Arabian Gulf neighbours, with United States and United Nations backing. The deal envisages elections in 2014.

A Yemen official told the donors the country needs almost $12bn in the short term.

“The national unity government needs $11.9 billion in the short term,” the planning and international cooperation minister, Mohammed Al Saadi, told delegates at a meeting in the Saudi capital.

Of the money pledge, “the total number is $6.396bn to fund the short term and portions of the long term,” Inger Andersen, vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, said at the meeting.

The figure includes $3.25bn in aid earlier pledged by Saudi Arabia, of which a $1bn loan has been paid to Yemen’s central bank.

The US, which wants to prevent instability in Yemen from spreading in the oil-rich region, said it would provide $345 million in security, humanitarian and development assistance this year.

The figure, contained in a speech to be delivered by the US agency for international development administrator, Rajiv Shah, is more than double last year’s figure.

Of the total, $117m will be in the form of humanitarian assistance, Mr Shah  will say.

Britain is to provide a grant of £196 million.

The total pledged yesterday appeared to cover Yemen’s own estimate of the assistance it will require until the end of the 2014 election.

Yemen’s planning and international cooperation ministry said that by 2014, the country would need $300m for a peaceful transfer of power, $445m for security, $3.5bn for humanitarian projects and reconstruction, and $470m to stabilise the economy.

The two-day Riyadh meeting aims to address reconstruction, humanitarian needs and ways to strengthen security and stability in Yemen, Mr Saadi said in Sanaa ahead of the conference.

It will also cover political dialogue, preparations for elections and basic infrastructure needs, he said, adding some states would pledge aid in Riyadh and other await a Friends of Yemen meeting in New York next month.