June 3, 2012
DUBAI — The UAE on Sunday announced food aid worth 500 million dirhams ($136 million) for Yemen where aid groups say around 44 percent of the population do not have enough to eat, state news agency WAM reported.
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan "has approved allocating 500 million dirhams to buy food and distribute it urgently to the brotherly Yemeni people," WAM said.
The move is to "alleviate the suffering and ensure the availability of basic needs" to enable Yemenis to achieve "better security, stability and prosperity," said the statement.
The food items include "rice, sugar, cooking oil, baby milk, canned food and other basic items of daily use," it said.
Last month, seven aid groups warned diplomats that Yemen was on the brink of a "catastrophic food crisis."
At least 10 million people, some 44 percent of the population, do not get "enough food to eat", they said, adding that one in three children was "severely malnourished."
On May 21, the European Union unblocked an extra five million euros ($6.2 million) for Yemen to help fight mounting malnutrition in what it said was a "desperate" food crisis affecting almost half of the population.
The Commission has already mobilised 20 million euros ($24.9 million) in humanitarian aid for Yemen this year, directed at increasing and improving access to clean water, supporting feeding programmes, developing cash-for-work schemes and providing cash grants for 200,000 people.
Deadly anti-regime protests swept Yemen last year, finally forcing president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in February after 33 years in power.
The political crisis has left the country's economy in tatters and aggravated the dire security situation, with Al-Qaeda militants launching a wave of attacks in the mostly lawless south since Saleh's departure.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula, with more than 40 percent of people living below the poverty line.