Sima Bahous: Friends of Yemen Meeting

07 Mar 2013

imageThe fifth Friends of Yemen meeting was Co-chaired by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen.

Statement of Sima Bahous, UN Assistant Secretary General, Assistant Administrator, and UNDP Regional Director of Bureau for Arab States
Friends of Yemen Meeting
Lancaster House,
London, UK
7 March 2013

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I wish to thank the Honorable William Hague for hosting this meeting and for the leadership of the United Kingdom in co-sharing the Friends of Yemen regular meetings.

Honorable Friends of Yemen, I am very pleased to address this audience not only on behalf of UNDP but also on behalf of the United Nations Development Group constituted of 32 UN funds, programmes, agencies, departments, and offices.

I especially would like to acknowledge the presence among us of a long-time friend and great supporter of the United Nations, H.E. Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is chairing the Yemeni delegation. I also would like to acknowledge the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented today by H.E. Dr. Nizar Madani, Minister of State, for their leadership and generous support to the Yemeni people.

But, Ladies and Gentlemen, first I wish to congratulate the Yemeni people under the leadership of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi for the progress achieved thus far towards the implementation of a smooth transition. Despite challenges, the transition that Yemen has embarked on is progressing slowly but surely. The United Nations is here to witness the progress you have made and also reaffirm our strong commitment to stand by the Yemeni people and Government in advancing towards a brighter future.

I also acknowledge the continuing support of the international community, and the leadership and commitment of the Gulf Cooperation Council. We are fortunate to be part of a committed and dedicated international community in Yemen, in which the diplomatic missions, development agencies and international organizations coordinate their work to provide effective and reliable assistance to the Yemeni Government and people. Our joint priority is to translate pledges into catalytic results to address people’s expectations. As a UN system we have pledged US$273 million from our core resources, and this pledge is today mobilized and under spending.

UN support to Yemen is threefold: We are fostering an enabling environment for transition through our support of the National Dialogue, elections, capacity building and early recovery. We are responding to the most needy with basic services as a part of the humanitarian effort. And we are working to lay the foundations for long-term development to enable a prosperous future for the Yemeni people. We very much welcome the decision of the Secretary-General to accept Yemen’s eligibility to receive support from the Peace Building Fund.

Yemen now enters into a critical phase of the transition with the launching of the national dialogue process, the establishment of transitional justice framework, the setting up of an independent human rights commission and the undertaking of the second phase of the electoral cycle. In this delicate situation, the success of the political agenda requires a conducive socio-economic environment. Addressing the basic needs of the population and setting up the basis for immediate economic recovery is no longer only an option in Yemen -- if we are to preserve the gains of the ongoing political transition, it is a necessity.

The 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan appeals for US $716 million to provide assistance to 7.7 million Yemenis. As an example of our efforts, in January, WFP launched an expanded US $242 million emergency operation targeting nearly 5 million people. The impact of the recent crisis in Yemen on access to basic services has led to widespread and acute vulnerabilities, which could have a significant impact on social cohesion.

Furthermore, a long term approach for addressing the humanitarian and developmental challenges is needed to make sure that life-saving interventions are followed by efforts towards long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts with focus on human development, service delivery, employment and sustainable economic development.

In this regard, I acknowledge and commend the strong leadership of the government of the United Kingdom in announcing 70 million Pounds Sterling for humanitarian assistance in 2013-2014, and indeed as the first donor to spearhead the multi-year funding approach for humanitarian assistance in Yemen. Multi-year funding is crucial for planning and predictability. After listening to some of today’s statements, I am confident other partners will soon follow.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will continue to assist the Government of Yemen, as it reaches out to its people and strengthens local governance countrywide.  Ensuring the state’s presence and authority in areas affected by the conflict will greatly help in conveying a sense of unity and will assist the State in meeting the expectations of Yemenis. The UN is committed to remaining on the ground along with the people, the Government and partners. We are present with our programmes and our projects throughout the country.

An important factor of Yemen’s success will be enhanced capacity to absorb and manage aid. The UN is working with the World Bank to support the Government of Yemen in this regard. But this undertaking requires inclusive coalitions involving the private sector, civil society, youth groups, women and other stakeholders. The success of the run-up to the national dialogue proves that such coalitions are possible in Yemen, a sign that it is possible to further strengthen the capacity to govern and manage development support and processes.

As the political, humanitarian and development processes continue, the ability of the Government of Yemen to ensure Human Rights by respecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in line with international human rights standards, will be an important measure of success. As Yemen prepares to start the National Dialogue Conference, it is crucial for all parties to ensure that human rights principles, standards and concerns are at the heart of the National Dialogue deliberations and ultimately the constitutional drafting process.

The people of Yemen have embarked on a path of change for their country. External partners are committed to support this process. The United Nations will remain at the side of Yemen in this historic endeavor.