Monday, January 11, 2010

International aid flowing into Yemen

A lot has been said about Yemen since the attempted bombing of an airplane by an Yemeni national on Christmas Day. Yemen has a similar poverty situation as most of Africa, yet receives less aid per person than other African countries. Many policy advisers warn the US that they must address the issue of poverty in Yemen instead of simply fighting al-Qaeda.

From Bloomberg News, writer Henry Meyer presents an article full of facts and figures about international aid going into Yemen.

A Western failure to address Yemen’s economic and social weaknesses will exacerbate the threat from al-Qaeda in the poorest Arab nation, said Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey. Yemen gets about one-third the foreign aid accorded to equally poor parts of Asia and Africa on a per capita basis.

“You can’t focus only on killing people and not on what turns them into al-Qaeda supporters,” said Mustafa Alani, a security expert at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.

About 40 percent of Yemen’s population, which is expected to almost double by 2030 to 40 million, lives on less than $2 a day, says the U.K. Department for International Development. Foreign aid comes to $12 a year for each Yemeni, compared with an average of $33 in African and Asian nations suffering similar levels of poverty, the department says.

Yemen is in need of development help as the conflict with Muslim Shiite rebels on the border with Saudi Arabia exacerbates its economic troubles. Christopher Boucek, a Yemen expert at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, estimates that the government is spending $200 million a month on the war.

In the province of Amran, refugees have crowded into six schools in one mountain valley near the conflict zone. The 1,200 children have been unable to go to class since September, said Lucienne Maas, country program director for U.K.-based charity Save the Children. More than 175,000 refugees have fled the fighting, according to the United Nations.

In rural areas, in which 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives, only 20 percent of houses get electricity, according to the U.S. Trade Development Agency. Less than half of the rural population has access to clean drinking water.

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