Yemeni protesters attend a celebration marking the end of the former regime in Sanaa
Yemeni protesters attend a celebration marking the end of the former regime in Sanaa in February 2012. Donor representatives, gathered for preparatory talks on Wednesday for a "Friends of Yemen" meeting in Riyadh next month, heard of growing concern about a worsening relief situation in the Arab world's poorest country. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Yemeni protesters attend a celebration marking the end of the former regime in Sanaa
AFP
Last updated: March 21, 2012

Donor concern mounts ahead of 'Friends of Yemen' meet

Donor representatives, gathered for preparatory talks on Wednesday for a "Friends of Yemen" meeting in Riyadh next month, heard of growing concern about a worsening relief situation in the Arab world's poorest country.

A senior official of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council told the gathering that efforts to deliver desperately needed humanitarian relief were being "seriously hampered by the (political) crisis" in Sanaa.

Aid efforts were "dependent on the restoration of stability at both the security and economic levels," said GCC assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Abdel Aziz al-Awisheq.

Delegates to the talks, who included representatives of the European Union, the United Nations and the United States, as well as Yemen's oil-rich Gulf neighbours, were presented with a draft action plan drawn up by UN agencies in cooperation with the interim unity government in Sanaa.

The UN World Food Programme warned that nearly five million Yemenis, or a quarter of the population, face "serious food insecurity."

The emergency plan to relaunch Yemen's impoverished economy, which has been ravaged by more than a year of political division and bloodshed, focuses on rebuilding the country's battered infrastructure as well as basic needs, Planning Minister Mohammed al-Saadi said earlier this month.

Saadi said he hoped next month's "Friends of Yemen" meeting would mark a "turning point in relations between Yemen and participating countries."

The forum was set up at an international conference in London in January 2011 to help Sanaa combat a resurgent threat from Al-Qaeda in the ancestral homeland of slain jihadist leader Osama bin Laden, as well as multiple other security challenges.

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 veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hadi is to serve for an interim two-year period under a Gulf-brokered transition plan signed by Saleh in November after 10 months of protests against his rule sparked deadly violence between his opponents and loyalist troops.

The new president has cautioned that the turmoil that split the security forces and fanned an insurgency by Al-Qaeda loyalists in the south and east is not yet over.

Saleh, who remains the head of the long-dominant General People's Congress party despite giving up the presidency in Sanaa that he had held since 1978, unleashed new uncertainty on Tuesday by pulling his supporters out of a meeting of the unity cabinet set up under the transition deal.

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