x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

'Friends of Yemen' to meet in April with focus on rebuilding infrastructure

Yemen's interim transitional administration drew up "an emergency plan to relaunch the economy" and will submit it to the meeting in Riyadh.

SANAA // An emergency plan to relaunch its impoverished economy is to be presented to a Friends of Yemen forum of aid donors in Riyadh in April, the planning minister said on Saturday.

Yemen's interim transitional administration drew up "an emergency plan to relaunch the economy" and will submit it to the meeting, said Mohammed Al Saadi.

The plan focuses on rebuilding the infrastructure - electricity, roads, water and oil products - in one of the poorest countries in the Arabian peninsula, the official Saba news agency quoted Mr Al Saadi as saying.

"I hope that the meeting of the Friends of Yemen which is due to be held in early April in Riyadh will be a turning point in relations between Yemen and participating countries," he said.

The forum was set up at an international conference in London in January last year to help Sanaa combat a resurgent threat from Al Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for a botched bid to blow up a US airliner in December 2010.

The Friends of Yemen groups world powers including the United States, European Union countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

April's meeting will be the first since Yemen embarked on a transitional period after the election on February 21 of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to replace teh outgoing Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr Hadi is to serve for an interim two-year period under a Gulf-brokered transition plan signed by Mr Saleh last November after 10 months of protests demanding his removal.

The new president has warned that the turmoil that has crippled the economy and unleashed nationwide insecurity was not yet over.

He also vowed to fight Al Qaeda and restore security across Yemen, which is weakened by a Shiite rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

In September, the head of the Yemeni Centre for Strategic Studies, Mohammed Afandi, said that the county's already-weak economy worsened has been hit hard by last year's political crisis.

About 60 per cent of Yemen's 24 million population are living below the poverty line on an income of less than US$1 (Dh3.6) a day while inflation has shot up to more than 35 per cent, Mr Afandi said.

"If the crisis persists, there will be economic collapse. There will be famine, particularly in rural areas, and this will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe," he said.