UAE makes a difference in Yemen and beyond
Since the very beginning of the Houthi uprising against the internationally recognised government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the United Arab Emirates has committed itself to a moral and humanitarian mission to support the people of Yemen.
The Emirati people and their leadership gave no second thought before joining the Saudi-led coalition, hoping to protect war-wracked Yemen and its people against Houthi aggression. The UAE sacrificed its soldiers and paid with blood and treasure to defend the region against foreign meddling and help the governmental transition in Yemen.
Two years after Operation Decisive Storm was launched, the UAE continues to support the Yemeni people with much-needed moral and material support.
In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in February, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the UAE had provided more than $1.6 billion in direct humanitarian aid to Yemen since April 2015.
A recent report from the United Nations and humanitarian partners said nearly 80% of households in Yemen were in a worse economic situation than before the conflict. Data indicate that 17 million Yemenis suffer from hunger, an increase of 21% since June 2016.
International organisations, as well as the Aden-based government, have repeatedly accused Houthis of intercepting humanitarian aid. The Iran-backed rebels reportedly seized relief ships and gave supply goods to their fighters.
Despite repeated attempts by the Houthis to disrupt relief, the UAE has taken measures to open liberated areas to humanitarian assistance.
Following the liberation of Aden in July 2015, the Saudi-led coalition and the UAE used the city’s port to try to meet the urgent needs of Yemenis. Electricity and water were restored, more than 150 schools were renovated and damaged hospitals were made functional. Numerous other projects were implemented to assist the local population.
Similar efforts were undertaken in Mukalla and eastern Yemen. The UAE is preparing to increase humanitarian assistance in western areas after their liberation.
The Emirati initiatives in Yemen are making a difference in the country’s development and reconstruction and enabling a prompt improvement in the humanitarian situation.
Crucial to the aid efforts is the role of the Emirates Red Crescent. Operations of the volunteer humanitarian organisation have centred on relief, health care and education. The Emirates Red Crescent has shown a resourceful response to the deteriorating situation and contributed to the return of normal life to many affected areas in Yemen.
It is widely recognised that the Emirati initiatives are not restricted to one country or one region. The goodwill of the Arab country has served a substantial number of noble causes around the world.
The UAE provided $8.8 billion in foreign aid during 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said. About 92% of foreign assistance went to development projects to support long-term solutions, alleviate poverty and fund the improvement and restoration of infrastructure and transport.
The UAE perceives its generous foreign aid as a natural part of its humane duty and a form of commitment to its Arab and Islamic values.
The UAE’s foreign aid strategy for 2017-21 was begun to identify countries and sectors that need assistance. The strategy engaged the private sector and created a unit for technical assistance, Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem bint Ibrahim al-Hashemi said.
This course of Emirati humanitarian action was inspired by the approach of UAE founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, who spared no effort in the support of Arab people.
He was a remarkable leader with a pioneering vision that led to the creation of the UAE — a country that ranks as the most competitive economy in the Middle East and North Africa, a report by the World Economic Forum stated.
Sheikh Zayed’s universal respect and tolerance had played a crucial role in regional issues. He had stressed the importance of Arab unity and stood by other Arab countries in need.
It is no surprise that his legacy and vision are admired and celebrated in many countries, with many mosques, schools, universities and streets named in his honour.