Canada’s Initial Pledge of US$ 100,000 for Yemen’s Demining Effort [Archives:1998/39/Law & Diplomacy]

September 28 1998


Mr. Daniel Edward Hobson is the non-resident ambassador of Canada to Yemen. He flies in regularly from Riyadh.
Ismail Al-Ghabiry of Yemen Times met him and filed the following interview.

Q: Why were you in Sanaa this time?
A: I come to Yemen regularly for holding meetings with officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss issues of mutual interests. I wanted also to discuss the arrangements of the visit to Canada by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which will be some time, next year. I also came to take part in the conference on landmines.
Q: How do you assess Yemen’s efforts in the landmines issue?
A: As you know Canada has taken a lead in the international treaty to ban the use of any personnel landmines. That is why we have taken an interest in the efforts of the governmental and non-governmental organizations in Yemen have been making to address the problems of landmines. I wanted to show our support for that effort.
Q: What kind of support are you talking about?
A: We have been contributing all along to help the Yemeni people in their struggle against the effects of landmines. We have co-financed NGO projects in rehabilitating people injured by landmines. We will continue to do that.
In the meeting yesterday (Sunday 22/9/98), we have pledged an initial $ 1,00,000 to buy 10 very high technology protective suits that are used in taking care particularly of dangerous mines. These suits are manufactured in Canada and exported all over the world. Each suit costs $ 10,000. It offers a high level of protection, since it is used when there is a very hard problem.
We will also work with officials in Canada to see other resources to provide support to NGOs activities in terms of landmines awareness or helping those injured.
Q: You mentioned the president’s visit to Canada next year, after the earlier schedule was postponed. How does it look now?
A: I have asked Yemeni officials to be in touch with us over the next few weeks to provide us an indication whether it will possible in the next year for the president to make a trip to Canada. When the president makes a trip to any country, he has to take many things into account. Right now I don’t think that any timing has been decided.
I hope that in the few coming weeks the Yemeni side will be able to inform us when the visit will be possible.
Q: How do you assess Yemeni-Canadian relations?
A: Relations are important in two respects – there are a lot of Canadian oil companies in Yemen. We think that is a very positive thing. These activities are not only important for Canada, but also for Yemen because oil is an important resource. The other major area I would say is the courageous reform that your government has been undertaking at the political level – to hold elections, to empower the NGOs, to be more positive on human rights, etc. These are values which we in Canada support whole-heartedly. This is why I am trying to raise awareness in Canada of Yemen is doing.
Q: How do you read the human rights record of Yemen?
A: I am not an expert in human rights, but I am pleased that Yemen is prepared to make an effort in this issue. I can see more empowerment of the NGOs and much greater freedom for the press than in any place in this region. It shows that the government knows that there are international standards on human rights.
Q: We read advertisements in newspapers and magazines about immigration to Canada. What is the story?
A: People interested in traveling to Canada should consult our embassy.