Saudi conference pledges $6.4 billion for Yemen

AP News
Posted: Sep 04, 2012 6:00 PM
Saudi conference pledges $6.4 billion for Yemen

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — An international donors conference in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday pledged an aid package of $6.4 billion to help poverty-stricken, strife-torn Yemen.

Saudi state TV said that the kingdom's share of the total is $3.25 billion, including a loan of $1 billion dollars to be deposited in the Yemeni Central Bank.

Other donors are the U.S., Britain and the World Bank.

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf appealed for greater efforts to aid Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.

Yemeni officials estimate they need at least $11 billion in aid.

Al-Assaf said Saudi Arabia has provided more than $3 billion in aid to Yemen over the past five years, but more is needed.

Yemen is struggling for stability after a yearlong uprising that forced its longtime ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down in February.

Yemen is still wracked by violence, and Saleh is believed to be interfering with reform efforts by his successor, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The country is also struggling with a lingering security vacuum. In the south, the military has been battling Yemen's al-Qaida branch, considered the terror network's most dangerous. The militants took control of southern towns and cities during Yemen's internal turmoil. They were driven out of most of their strongholds during a recent military offensive but remain potent.

Along with political challenges, nearly half the population lives below the international poverty line of $2 a day and doesn't have access to proper sanitation.

There are many other problems. Less than a 10th of Yemen's roads are paved. Water shortages loom. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes by conflict, flooding into cities.

Also, the government is riddled with corruption, has little control outside the capital, and its main source of income, oil, could run dry within a decade.