European Commission contributes aid to Yemen [Archives:2005/807/Community]

January 13 2005

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

It was announced last Monday that the European Commission will provide Yemen with _2.53 million ($3.3 million) for people viewed as the most in need of assistance.

The groups receiving help will be one of the most marginalized groups – commonly called “Akhdam” in Yemen society – that live in shanty neighborhoods, children living on the streets and refugees from countries in the Horn of Africa.

“The humanitarian needs in Yemen are largely forgotten by the international media and the donor community,” said Louis Michel, European Commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid and development. “Because the Yemeni state has limited capacity to act, despite its development efforts, it is up to the European Commission to help the poorest and most vulnerable people to live in decent conditions and in dignity.”

According to the United Nations, nearly a third of the Yemenis, and around two-thirds of those living in rural areas, do not have access to drinking water. The plan of the project is to provide 60,000 people living in rural areas with proper water facilities.

The European Commission will back the construction of drinking water systems and health clinics in shanty towns in Sana'a and Taiz that will help improve the lives of over 24,000 people.

The most marginalized group in Yemen live in cities and villages in different parts of the country, and most live in small homes made of cinderblocks or aluminum, tarps and waste material. It is estimated that roughly 200,000 reside in Yemen, and most men are hired as street cleaners or garbage collectors and earn around $50 a month. In a study conducted by The World Bank, only 45% of the children were enrolled in school in 1999, and many women and children need to go out to work or beg to support their families.

The humanitarian aid will support the development of places to stay and education for 650 children living on the streets of the capital. A study carried out by United Nations Children's Fund and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor showed that there are approximately 28,000 homeless children in Yemen, with 4,000 in the capital.

The plan also includes building water distribution and sanitation facilities in a camp on the southern coast of Yemen that services refugees from Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees headquarters in Sana'a has reported that 47,000 Somali refugees now live in Yemen. It is estimated that 430,000 Somalis live outside of Somalia after leaving the country that has been in a civil war since 1991.

“The people who will be receiving aid from the European Commission are really in need of help,” said Adam Taylor-Awny, Program Technical Advisor at CARE International in Yemen. “The marginalized groups and the lack of water facilities, for example, are generally excluded from the development of services in general. This is a good move, but I would like to see more funding and efforts contributed in the future.”

The funding provided by the European Commission will be managed by ECHO, the Commission's Humanitarian Office, and the projects will be implemented by United Nation agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations.