Emirati humanitarian support to continue for Yemen

Sunday 26/03/2017
Reinstating hope. A truck carrying parcels provided by the Emirates Red Crescent prepares to deliver aid in the city of Aden. (AFP)

Abu Dhabi - The United Arab Emirates has been providing assis­tance to Yemen for dec­ades as part of its efforts to spread wealth to coun­tries and people in need.
Overall, the UAE is ranked as one of the world’s top contributors of development aid, a distinction achieved in record time, the Brit­ish ambassador to the UAE, Philip Parham, said.
“We congratulate the UAE lead­ership, government and people for the remarkable leading role in the field of humanitarian assistance,” Parham said in a statement mark­ing the 2017 year of giving initiative launched by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Over the last 20 months, the UAE has spent more than $1.6 billion in Yemen alone, with half a billion dollars going strictly to humanitar­ian aid.
On February 8th, when the Unit­ed Nations launched an effort to raise $2.1 billion to provide food and other essential assistance for the 12 million people in Yemen who were reportedly facing the threat of famine, the UAE was one of the first to support the call. The Gulf state has been the largest aid donor in this fundraising effort, contrib­uting just under a billion dollars.
The Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) has also been collecting donations from the Emirati populace in sup­port of the Yemenis. In February, after coalition forces liberated the coastal town of Yakhtal, the ERC distributed 5,000 food baskets, blankets and tents to residents.
“The UAE, led by President Sheikh Khalifa, prioritises the hu­manitarian cause of the Yemeni people, based on the humanitar­ian approach of the founder of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who spared no effort to back the Yemeni people in all circumstances,” Hamdan al- Mazrouei, chairman of the board of the ERC was quoted as saying by the Abu Dhabi-based the National newspaper.
“Through its efforts in Yemen, the Emirates Red Crescent seeks to minimise the impact of the current situation on the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable and under­privileged civilians,” al-Mazrouei added
But not all of the aid from the UAE and other countries has made it to its intended target.
According to Abdul Raqeeb Fath, the Yemeni minister of Local Ad­ministration and head of the High­er Relief Committee, humanitarian efforts have been obstructed by the Houthis and fighters loyal to for­mer president Ali Abdullah Saleh since their power grab in Septem­ber 2014. During this time, Houthi forces have seized and looted more than 63 aid ships in the ports of Ho­deidah, Sulaif and Aden, Fath said.
Fath told the Emirates News Agency earlier this month that the militia intercepted and seized ships carrying humanitarian and medical aid intended to assist Yemenis dis­placed by insurgent bombardment. According to the Yemeni minister, the Houthis confiscated 223 relief, medical and humanitarian convoys and then sold the seized materials on the black market. The forces also reportedly abducted 30 aid workers.
Aid efforts from the UAE have also reached areas newly liberated from the Houthis. This is part of the UAE’s overall strategy to not only neutralise the Houthi threat, but also support Yemenis who have suf­fered under the rebels.
The UAE has vowed to continue its drive to help the people of Yem­en, recently pledging an additional $1.2 billion in aid.