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Burns On Yemen


A woman holds her malnourished child at a feeding center at al-Sabyeen hospital in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, June 20, 2012.

“The international community must move quickly to assist Yemenis."

Less than a year removed from a year-long uprising that resulted in the abdication of long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen is struggling through a rough political transition exacerbated by a bad economic situation and a growing humanitarian crisis.

Yemen is the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country. According to recent data collected by the United Nations Humanitarian Country Team in Yemen, food insecurity has doubled over the last two years. Over 10 million people – 44 percent of the population -- are food insecure, and another 5 million need immediate lifesaving assistance.

The UN team also found that the infrastructure has collapsed, and public services are nearly non-existent. Approximately 30 percent of the water, sanitation, and sewage systems are in need of urgent repair, leaving half the population without access to safe water. Those Yemenis living in conflict-affected areas in southern Yemen have been hardest hit: a largely successful government campaign to force Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to relinquish control of parts of southern Yemen has displaced some 250 thousand people over the past 16 months.

“The international community must move quickly to assist Yemenis as they both pursue their political transition, and seek to meet the country’s urgent humanitarian and development needs,” said Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at the Friends of Yemen Ministerial meeting in late September. “There can be no lasting stability and no freedom from extremism in Yemen without political reform and economic progress.”

In this fiscal year, the United States has dedicated over $346 million to Yemen, much of it going toward humanitarian aid and economic assistance where it is most needed.

“The responsibility now lies with Yemen’s leadership to take meaningful steps on political reforms. “For Yemen’s transition to be successful, Yemenis must pursue the National Dialogue and develop viable government institutions,” said Deputy Secretary Burns.

U.S. assistance, in addition to support from other international donors, will help Yemen to stabilize its economic situation and will address the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected Yemenis. “We will partner with the Yemeni Government, private sector, and civil society to promote long-term, sustainable development prospects, develop economic activity and reform, and strengthen both domestic and foreign direct investment opportunities in Yemen.

“We will support the creation of active programs to improve Yemeni job skills, to ensure that Yemen’s workforce is prepared to compete and succeed in today’s global economy, and empower the people of Yemen to take their future into their own hands.”
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