Three months ago, the Yemeni people inspired the world by bringing unprecedented political change to their country. Yemen’s transition represents an important step forward, but more work lies ahead. Together with the Friends of Yemen, the United States continues to stand by the Yemeni people as they take steps to realize a more secure, prosperous, and democratic future.
At the Friends of Yemen meeting on May 23, the international community will discuss how to help the Yemeni government rebuild its institutions following a year of unrest, and encourage the Yemeni government to engage in a serious and inclusive dialogue with all relevant parties to chart the way forward. At the same time, it is important to note that the government will not be able to tackle the dire humanitarian and economic crises by itself, especially in the short term.
Overcoming Yemen’s challenges requires a comprehensive strategy that emphasizes governance and economic development as much as security issues. The United States’ approach to Yemen is therefore multifaceted and balanced. As the transition progresses, we will continue to meet the needs of the Yemeni people by delivering humanitarian aid and economic assistance, supporting political and governance reform, and providing security assistance to combat the common threat of violent extremism. The United States provided Yemen with $145 million in assistance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and plans to provide at least $147 million in FY 2012. Additional funds may become available in FY 2012 for Yemen, as needs arise.
The United States is committed to directing a significant portion of our assistance directly to the Yemeni people. U.S. civilian assistance to Yemen includes humanitarian aid as well as development and transition support. The United States provided $115 million in civilian assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide at least $111 million in FY 2012.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is one of the worst in the world. Recent United Nations studies have found that nearly half of the Yemeni population is food insecure, and nearly one million children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition. Meanwhile, conflicts continue to displace citizens and hamper the relief efforts of the UN and humanitarian organizations.
The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, and our aid aims to address the emergency and food needs of the most vulnerable populations. The United States provided $62 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and is providing $73 million in FY 2012.
· U.S. humanitarian partners provide protection, water and sanitation, emergency food, health services, and educational programs to help vulnerable populations.
· U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance includes support for over 550,000 internally displaced persons, over 215,000 refugees and 140,000 migrants from the Horn of Africa, conflict victims, and other vulnerable populations. We are also working to build the response capacity for the Yemeni government and local organizations.
Development and Transition Assistance
The United States is dedicated to supporting the Yemeni people as they transition to a democracy worthy of their struggle. As part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-brokered transition agreement signed by Yemeni parties on November 23, 2011, the Yemeni government has committed to convene an inclusive National Dialogue conference, reform the constitution and electoral system, reorganize the military, and hold democratic elections within two years.
The United States is working to support Yemen’s significant transition and development needs. We are focused on improving service delivery (health, education, and water) for vulnerable segments of the population; enhancing economic livelihood and growth opportunities; supporting representative government and participatory transitional processes; and providing Yemeni youth with meaningful civic, social, and economic opportunities. The United States provided $52 million in development and transition assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide at least $38 million in FY 2012.
· U.S. support seeks to expand political participation in Yemen, including to women and youth, and to encourage more transparent processes for developing policy. We are leveraging technical assistance to help the Government of Yemen meet transition benchmarks, including reforming the electoral system.
· The United States supports improvements in livelihoods and economic opportunity. We are contributing to the creation of jobs and building the capacity of local communities through infrastructure rehabilitation, value chain development, and micro-finance and small enterprise support.
· We are also improving Yemen’s staggering health gaps by renovating health clinics, providing basic medical equipment to health facilities, training midwives and doctors in maternal and child health, and supporting community health education.
Military and Security Assistance
The aspirations of the Yemeni people and the urgent humanitarian challenges cannot be fully addressed until the security situation improves. U.S. security assistance to Yemen is aimed at restoring stability and security to Yemen while building the capacity of the Yemeni government to combat the common threat of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The United States provided $30 million in military and security assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide at least $36 million in FY 2012.
· Based on conditions in Yemen, we are gradually resuming suspended military assistance to components of the Yemeni military that are combating AQAP. The resumption of assistance to Yemeni forces includes equipment and limited training.
· In accordance with the transition agreement, Yemen must restructure its armed forces under civilian control, and with a unified and professional leadership structure that serves the Yemeni people’s national interests. The United States is committed to support the Yemeni military as it undertakes this task.
· We are also examining options to provide training and assistance to Yemeni law enforcement and security forces to strengthen the rule of law and to empower the criminal justice system.
As we have done in the past, we will continue to monitor carefully all U.S. assistance to ensure it serves its intended purpose and to guard against human rights abuses.