Jane Marriott, British Ambassador to Yemen

Jane Marriott

British Ambassador to Yemen

Part of UK in Yemen

26th April 2014 Sana’a, Yemen

Friends of Yemen: Getting by with a little help from my friends

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At the Friends of Yemen meeting in London next week, Yemeni Ministers and their counterparts in the international community will meet to discuss Yemen’s progress in the three areas of security, politics and the economy. 

No lasting progress can be made against any one of these areas without progress in the others.  Genuine peace and security requires a fair political settlement and jobs and livelihood for millions of Yemenis struggling for a better future; political progress requires people to agree to settle disputes with ballots not bombs, and confidence that political transition will lead to real improvements in people’s lives; and a healthy economy needs secure oil pipelines, a safe environment to attract domestic and foreign investment and a government acting on behalf of all Yemen’s people and tackling corruption.  The ongoing humanitarian crisis threatens progress in all three areas, and will get worse unless progress is made.

The economic agenda is set out in the Mutual Accountability Framework (or MAF) to which Yemen and her Friends committed at the Riyadh Donor Conference in September 2012.  This sounds horribly bureaucratic and complex but the concept is very simple.  We all recognise that neither aid donors nor the Yemen Government can transform the economy and improve the lives of Yemen’s people on their own – we need to work together.  The MAF sets out what the Government will do (a set of reforms including introduction of a public-private partnership law, the strengthening of the Supreme National Authority for Combatting Corruption, and agreement of an IMF programme to put the economy on the right path) and what the donors will do (give $8 billion of aid to Yemen from 2012 to 2015).

This is not an international economic reform agenda being imposed on Yemen.  The NDC Outcomes document recognised the need for widespread economic reform, from rationalising public expenditure and improving revenue collection, through to removing barriers to investment.

Progress so far has been mixed at best on both the Government and donor sides of the bargain.  The reforms the Government committed to are all difficult and politically challenging, which is why little progress has been made.  Yemen currently spends more than it earns, and little of this expenditure goes to the people who need it.  Urgent action is needed to balance the books, redirect expenditure to poor people and avert an economic crisis.

I am proud to say that the UK is on track to exceed our pledge to spend $311 million of aid in Yemen from 1 April 2012 to 30 March 2015 on humanitarian relief, basic social infrastructure and social protection, the political transition and wealth creation.  Overall however, less than half of the pledged $8 billion has been disbursed. Donors who specialise in major infrastructure projects are finding it most difficult to get aid flowing, mainly because a lot of work is needed to identify and prepare projects before work can begin.

This is why the UK is supporting the work of the Ministry of Planning and the Executive Bureau set up to assist the Government in preparing projects for aid funding, and driving Government implementation of policy reform.  The Executive Bureau was formally launched in December last year by Alan Duncan MP, UK Minister for International Development. Amatalim Alsoswa was appointed as Director earlier this year, and I am pleased to say that the Executive Bureau has already made progress under her impressive leadership, working with the Ministry of Planning.

For the UK, next week’s meeting is an opportunity to welcome the progress made so far by the Government and by donors in delivering the promises set out in the MAF; to urge faster action in delivering aid so far unspent and on reform; and to call for more international action to address the humanitarian crisis.  Fundamentally, it is an opportunity to do what true friends do – to offer support and tell each other the truth about what needs to change. We know the people of Yemen want and deserve progress, particularly in the economy, and I believe the FoY mechanism, in support of the MAF and NDC outcomes, is the best way to deliver it.

1 comment on “Friends of Yemen: Getting by with a little help from my friends

  1. TO SAYOUN “with love” – May 24th, 2014

    Yemen undoubtedly champions the conflicting roles of spearheading AQAP terrorism and at the same time falls as its standout victim. It is the pooling ground and launching pad, veiled by religion, tribalism, government complacency and patronage groups, mainly northerners. All these factors undoubtedly originated, nurtured and maintained by a northern patronage and deliberately pushed to the South as its playground. Unlike other anecdotal assumptions, this is now a well corroborated fact. Past incidents and practices showed deliberate attempts to turn a security blind eye, handover military assets and contrive contingencies that murk the Southern Case and paint it, falsely, as a breeding ground of terrorism. Following a number of unsuccessful missions, some riddled even with conspiracy, the latest anti-terrorism missions in Abyan and Shabwa, lead by southerner commanders, were “rare” successes.
    The future is very gloomy with looming threats are increasingly serious. Almost daily security incidents are being orchestrated by ever more sophisticated planning, financing and executing terrorism threads. Reactive surgical combats, restructuring of armed forces and investment of USAID in stability aides would be futile, if sought as a long term strategy. This is a deep rooted challenge that can only be addressed by long term strategies aiming into the very history of the political and societal threads. Without, the issues of security and stability would remain a Jigsaw puzzle burdening American tax payers with the Northern mosaic driving constituent factors.
    The issue of terrorism in the current political/economic scene and is irresolvable and will yield poor return on investment, given the northern patronage dominating the portfolio. The current federal proposition of six regional strategy may lack popular support and in the forseen horizon, represents nothing beyond the deliverables of the local administration law. The latter was tried in the past and for more than fifteen years yielded nowhere. What is required is a refreshed look by which intrinsic success factors are given due consideration. The 1990 South Concept represents at the threshold level, 65% geo-elimination and 100% patronage cleansing of the phenomenon. The southern cultural heritage, the setback of a failed unity with the north and the current outcry of southern self determination may represent an enabling environment of a sustainable root solution. It is a challenging choice, requires a structured approach by which phases of roadmapping, preparatory transitions and the cooperation of northern as well as regional stakeholders. It is the only way by which terrorism threads are finally put to rest, at least in the south, being culturally unsolicited and carefully managed by patronage-free legislatures, government and jurisprudence.

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