Development Minister: UK supports Yemeni development [Archives:2006/997/Front Page]

November 9 2006

By:Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, Nov. 8 ) In a meeting yesterday in Sana'a with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, UK International Development Minister Gareth Thomas discussed the UK's current support program for Yemen in advance of the upcoming Yemen Donors Conference in London.

During the discussion, President Saleh reviewed Yemen's achievements and progress regarding reforms, democracy and women's contributions to and in public and political life.

It was the first visit by a UK development minister. “The UK's relationship with Yemen goes back many years and it gives me great pleasure to be the first UK Minister for International Development to visit this beautiful country,” Thomas remarked.

He insisted on the importance of supporting Yemen, noting, “Yemen is a very poor country facing many challenges, but it's also an important partner with the UK in fighting terrorism and promoting stability in the Gulf region and the Horn of Africa.”

Thomas also discussed Yemen's plan for reducing poverty, improving governance and fighting corruption. “This is particularly important as Yemen prepares to present its plans at the Yemen Donors Conference in London next week.”

He added that the conference also will be an excellent opportunity to build regional cooperation with senior representatives from other Gulf states expected to attend the conference. “The UK considers this meeting an important step in Yemen's development, but both its government and donors will need to increase their efforts in the following months and years if we're to see sustained improvements in Yemen.

“Given the extent of poverty in the country, I'm surprised that Yemen has relatively few donors and receives much less aid than other countries in a similar position. In the past three years, DFID [the UK's Department for International Development] has provided $50 million to improve basic education and provide water and sanitation, roads, health care, education and micro-finance for communities, but much more needs to be done. The UK also is establishing new programs to improve public financial management within the government and provide better access to legal services for the poor,” the minister noted.

He expressed his hope that the UK's relationship with Yemen will grow stronger in the future. “The UK is home to many people who still have families in Yemen and who actively encourage the British government to increase its assistance to Yemen. It's my hope that the UK's relationship with Yemen will strengthen considerably in coming years. This is possible, given the Yemeni government's clearly stated commitment to reducing poverty, improving governance and tackling corruption,” he concluded.