The United States has a strong and growing partnership with Yemen. We are supporting the Yemeni government and people with a comprehensive strategy to promote the political, economic, and security sector reforms underpinning the country’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-brokered political transition initiative. Our aid is also focused on partnering with the Yemeni government to meet the critical needs of its citizens. The people of Yemen are looking to create a new political reality, with a government that is increasingly responsive, accountable, and capable of addressing urgent needs and building a solid foundation for the country’s long-term development, growth, security, and stability. The United States has committed $256 million in assistance to Yemen thus far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, in addition to the more than $356 million allocated in FY 2012. Since the beginning of Yemen’s transition in November 2011, U.S. aid to Yemen has totaled over $600 million.
Supporting the Political Transition
As envisioned in the GCC Initiative, the people of Yemen are in the midst of an inclusive National Dialogue to resolve fundamental questions about the structure of the state and reform of the political system. They will then translate these decisions into a new constitution and hold democratic elections for a new government in early 2014. In coordination with the international community, the United States has provided nearly $39 million since the transition began in 2011 to support Yemen in this process. A key focus of this aid is supporting the efforts of Yemeni women and youth to ensure their voices and perspectives contribute to Yemen’s transition.
• National Dialogue: We are providing technical and operational assistance to support the National Dialogue, including the training of delegates, mentoring for female and minority delegates, and civic engagement and outreach.
• Constitutional Reform and Referendum: U.S. assistance will facilitate the Yemeni government’s and constitutional drafting committee’s engagement with the Yemeni public and civil society, civic awareness and advocacy campaigns, monitoring, and consultation with Yemeni and international legal experts.
• Elections: To help Yemen achieve its goal of a credible, fair electoral process, we are partnering with Yemen’s Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum, civil society, and political parties to implement a new biometric voter registry, support election-day operations, conduct civic education and get-out-the vote activities, and undertake elections monitoring.
Standing with the People of Yemen
While Yemen tackles issues of fundamental political reform, it continues to cope with serious economic and social challenges affecting the everyday lives of all Yemenis. Greater investment in the economic and social wellbeing of the Yemeni people, as well as immediate relief for their urgent humanitarian needs, will help realize the transition’s full potential. Over the past two fiscal years, the United States has provided more than $221 million in humanitarian assistance to help address the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Yemen, in coordination with the United Nations Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan and other humanitarian actors. This includes food and nutrition assistance, access to clean water, and health care, including immunizations and disease prevention, among other types of assistance.
We are also helping to advance Yemeni government efforts in the areas of economic growth and development. U.S. programs help create economic opportunities for the Yemeni people, assist the Yemeni government in its efforts to improve the delivery of social services, and promote the institutional and policy reforms that will set Yemen on a more sustainable path. We have committed more than $100 million over the last two fiscal years for these endeavors. Examples include:
• Creating Jobs: We are contributing to job creation and capacity-building of local communities through infrastructure rehabilitation, micro-finance and small enterprise support, and agriculture development, with a special focus on conflict-affected communities in the south.
• Improving Education and Health: USAID has piloted an innovative reading program for children in 381 schools in Yemen, which has dramatically boosted reading ability. We are also working with Yemen’s Health Ministry to improve primary health care, child and maternal health services, and disease surveillance.
• Reforming Governance and Policy: We are partnering with the international community to help Yemen implement its reform commitments as agreed to in the Mutual Accountability Framework. We are also supporting an Executive Bureau that will accelerate the disbursement of donor pledges while increasing transparency and accountability.
Supporting Yemeni Security
Yemen’s security and stability will also provide a foundation for meaningful reform. The United States has set aside approximately $247 million over the last two fiscal years to build the counterterrorism capacity of Yemeni security forces, as well as to strengthen civilian law enforcement and judicial institutions. In coordination with the international community, we are also actively supporting Yemen’s security sector reorganization.
• Counterterrorism Capacity Building: To enhance Yemen’s ability to conduct counterterrorism operations, we are providing training and equipment to help improve the Yemeni military’s operational range, tactical proficiency, and response time; build an integrated aerial surveillance and ground mobility capability to monitor and interdict threats along Yemen’s coastline; and improve communications between aerial assets and ground forces. Additional training and equipment helps our Yemeni law enforcement partners improve investigations, border security, and critical infrastructure protection.
• Countering Violent Extremism: These programs train Yemeni government and civil society partners in how to design and implement public awareness-raising activities in communities at risk of radicalization and recruitment.
• Criminal Justice Reform: We will help Yemen develop more effective methods to address public demonstrations and civil disturbances consistent with international police standards, and to respond to and investigate crime. Our work with the justice sector will improve the core capacities of its personnel, particularly criminal and evidentiary procedure, ethical standards, and practical legal skills.
Building stronger bonds between the people of Yemen and the United States is vital to our long-term partnership. Educational exchanges and professional development play a key role in this. Over the past year, we brought Yemeni leaders from a variety of fields to the United States to study topics such as women and youth leadership, interfaith dialogue, university administration, disability rights, water resource management, and small business development. We hosted a Yemeni trade delegation that explored business opportunities in alternative energy and water, and we facilitated Yemen’s participation in a coffee trade show to help rehabilitate Yemen’s historic coffee industry. To expand our educational and cultural outreach in the south, we inaugurated an American Corner in Aden, and we look forward to opening additional American Corners in other Yemeni cities.