x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Officials in Yemen warn of cuts to health plans

Aid officials warn they will have to cut nutrition, health and education schemes that benefit more than 1.6 million vulnerable Yemenis.

NEW YORK // Aid officials warn they will have to cut nutrition, health and education schemes that benefit more than 1.6 million vulnerable Yemenis from October unless they can plug a US$23 million (Dh84.4m) funding gap. The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) announced a 42 per cent shortfall in this year's $55 million budget yesterday as the Arab world's poorest nation addresses flooding, fighting and volatile prices for food and fuel.

Cash shortages jeopardise two schemes that benefit poverty-struck rural families by providing food in exchange for sending their daughters to school and regularly visiting health centres, the UN said. The projects benefit 850,000 people and saw more families attend clinics and a 60 per cent jump in the number of girls attending WFP-assisted schools, according to officials. They help families displaced by fighting in Sa'ada, in northern Yemen; victims of food price hikes; Somali refugees; and those who lost property during last year's flooding in eastern Yemen.

"We are appealing to the donor community to help us keep increasing enrolment rates of girls in school and continue to provide essential safety nets for rural families," said Abdulsalam al Jawfi, education minister. Speaking in advance of a summit of Group of Eight industrialised nations that begins in Italy today, Britain's aid minister, Douglas Alexander, described Yemen as one of five "fragile and conflict-affected states" that urgently needs aid.

The international development secretary pledged Britain would maintain funding during the financial crisis and focus on unstable beneficiaries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nepal and Nigeria. jreinl@thenational.ae