The UAE and the task of nation building in Yemen
London - As the Saudi-led coalition continues to liberate parts of Yemen from the Iran-allied Houthi rebels, the task of nation building has already begun, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is playing a central role in resurrecting Yemen’s infrastructure.
Obaid Salem al-Zaabi, permanent representative of the UAE to the United Nations in Geneva, confirmed that his country supports the UN’s work in launching the 2017 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan through its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Zaabi stressed that the UAE has adopted “a comprehensive humanitarian approach” to supporting Yemen economically and logistically, including with humanitarian assistance.
The UAE’s efforts, he said, are intended to put Yemen on a path to reconstruction and development, which will, in turn, give rise to a better future for Yemen, full of security, stability and prosperity.
The UAE’s initiative to rebuild the liberated areas of Yemen through the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) had succeeded in transforming people’s lives, Yemeni officials said.
“By all measures, the response of the Emirates Red Crescent… to the humanitarian situation in Yemen exceeded all expectations,” said Fahad Saeed al-Menhali, Yemeni ambassador to the UAE, last February.
The ERC’s nation-building plans for Yemen are broad in scope and aim to address numerous issues afflicting the country’s people, some of which predate the start of the conflict in 2015.
Beyond rebuilding the country’s poorly developed infrastructure, the organisation plans to build and finance schools and hospitals, reconstruct the sewage system in a number of cities and rebuild numerous ports and airports.
As of now, the Red Crescent is in the process of renovating 154 schools in Aden, the temporary capital of the internationally recognised government.
Next in line will be schools in the less-stable Shabwah governorate, which was once a haven for al-Qaeda and was recently on the receiving end of US drone strikes targeting the terror group.
The ERC also recently signed an agreement with the Yemeni government to fund, rebuild and maintain schools in the Hadramawt region, which has been hammered by continuing shelling from the Houthi militia.
Abdullah al-Musafri, head of the ERC’s team on the ground, said the project was part of the UAE ‘s and the ERC’s commitments to providing long-term support for the people of Yemen.
After the civil war started in 2015, the Emirates was one of the first countries to begin a humanitarian drive in Yemen, launching a month-long Yemen: We Care campaign that generated $11 million in donations in its first three days.
In the last 20 months, the UAE spent more than $1.1 billion on improving Yemen’s energy and electricity sectors. Funding for the country’s transportation sector, which includes rebuilding airports and economically essential ports in Aden and Socotra, has reached $132 million. The amount of funding for Yemen’s public sector and civil societies is estimated to have exceeded $123 million.
The UAE has also worked to strengthen Yemen’s civil services in liberated areas. The country recently donated five rescue vehicles to the Civil Defence Department in Aden and provided a number of fire-fighting trucks, special equipment and reconstruction efforts in the southern port city.
The ERC recently set up solar-powered water generator projects in the Al-Aik region of Al-Reeda and Qusayr in the coast of Hadramawt and plans to restore 20 hospitals in 11 provinces in the war-torn country in collaboration with the World Health Organisation. Nasir Baoum, Yemen’s Health minister, said the stability witnessed in Aden has “encouraged intensifying development efforts in the health sector”. A vaccination programme targeting 643,000 women and children against measles and polio is also a part of the strategy.