Yemen has experienced a significant transformation over the past year and is charting a path to democracy. A successful democratic transition will require Yemen to overcome a number of serious, complex, and inter-related challenges. The United States is supporting the Yemeni people’s efforts to achieve this goal through a comprehensive strategy that promotes political, economic, and security sector reforms that will enable the government to respond to the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people. In addition to providing ongoing humanitarian assistance, the United States will continue to support the Yemeni people by delivering economic assistance, supporting good governance, encouraging expanded political participation, assisting with the development of a professional and capable security sector, and providing security assistance to combat the threat of violent extremism. The United States provided Yemen with $147 million in assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and plans to provide $346 million in FY 2012 – the largest amount of assistance provided by the U.S. government to Yemen to date.
Deputy Secretary Burns emphasized the United States’ strong commitment to working with Yemen in his remarks at the Friends of Yemen Ministerial.
The United States will direct a significant portion of our assistance directly to the Yemeni people. This includes humanitarian aid as well as development and transition support. The United States provided $116 million in civilian assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide $185 million in FY 2012.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is among the most challenging in the world. There are nearly 550,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), over 225,000 refugees, and 160,000 migrants and asylum seekers who are in need of assistance. In addition, a recent United Nations study found that nearly half of the Yemeni population has neither access to nor the resources to acquire adequate amounts of food, and nearly one million children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition.
The United States is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Yemen, and our aid addresses the emergency needs of the most vulnerable populations. The United States provided $62 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and is providing $117 million in FY 2012. With this funding, our humanitarian partners are providing protection, water and sanitation, emergency food, and health services to IDPs, refugees, conflict victims, and other vulnerable populations.
Development and Transition Assistance
As part of the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered transition agreement signed on November 23, 2011, the Yemeni government committed to convene an inclusive National Dialogue conference, reform the constitution and electoral system, reorganize the military, and hold democratic elections by early 2014. Achieving these goals requires a sustained effort on the part of all Yemenis. The United States is dedicated to supporting the Yemeni people as they transition to a democracy.
The United States will 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 the participation of all Yemenis in their transition process, including the National Dialogue, and providing Yemeni youth with meaningful civic, social, and economic opportunities. The United States provided $54 million in development and transition assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide nearly $68 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. We are also supporting efforts to engage Yemenis from across the political spectrum in the National Dialogue, so that they can contribute to the process of shaping Yemen’s future.
• The United States supports improvements in livelihoods and economic opportunity. We are contributing to job creation and capacity-building of local communities through infrastructure rehabilitation, micro-finance and small-enterprise support, and agriculture value-chain development.
• We are supporting the improvement of Yemen’s health system 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.
• Pending Congressional approval, we aim to help rebuild conflict-affected communities in the south. We also plan to work with Yemeni government officials and civil society to forge a path ahead on Yemen’s democratic transition.
• We are also strengthening the capacities of the Yemeni government and local organizations.
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 $31 million in security assistance to Yemen in FY 2011 and plans to provide roughly $49 million in Department of State-funded security assistance in FY 2012, as well as $112 million in Department of Defense-funded programs to train and equip the Yemeni security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations.
• Based on conditions in Yemen, we are gradually resuming previously 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.
• We will support efforts to reform and strengthen Yemen’s law enforcement and judicial institutions in order to enhance the rule of law.
• In accordance with the political transition initiative, Yemen must restructure its armed forces under civilian control, and create a unified and professional leadership structure that serves the Yemeni people’s national interests. The United States is committed to supporting the Yemeni military as it undertakes this task.
We will continue to monitor carefully all U.S. assistance to ensure it serves its intended purpose and to guard against human rights abuses by preventing persons or groups who have committed human rights violations from receiving U.S. funding.