Human Rights

UAE supports Abyan security, provides humanitarian aid

By Abu Bak al-Yamani in Sanaa

Yemeni government forces walk in Zinjibar on August 16th, 2016 after they entered the capital of the southern Abyan province following an offensive backed by Arab coalition airstrikes to recapture the city from al-Qaeda. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemeni government forces walk in Zinjibar on August 16th, 2016 after they entered the capital of the southern Abyan province following an offensive backed by Arab coalition airstrikes to recapture the city from al-Qaeda. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

The UAE, a major partner in the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis (Ansarallah) in Yemen, has been providing Abyan province with a steady stream of humanitarian aid and support for its local security forces, officials tell Al-Mashareq.

The Gulf state played a key part in liberating Abyan from al-Qaeda in August 2016. It also has been instrumental in rehabilitating its infrastructure and supporting its various service sectors, they said.

"The assistance provided by the UAE to Abyan province ranks first compared to [aid by] other donor countries and organisations," deputy Abyan governor Abdulaziz al-Hamza told Al-Mashareq.

The UAE Red Crescent team contributed to the rehabilitation of a large number of schools and provided food aid to needy families in the districts of Khanfar, Loder and Zinjibar, he said.

It also helped restore services to the electricity, health, education and water sectors, al-Hamza said.

Over the past two years, Emirati assistance has been extended to 10 million Yemenis, including four million children, at a cost of about 7.3 billion Emirati dirhams ($2 billion).

With this support, the UAE intends to ensure the foundations and pillars of development, security, stability and peace are established in Yemen, according to a March 23rd report in al-Bayan newspaper.

Overcoming security breaches in Abyan

"The security situation in Abyan is similar to that of other provinces liberated [from al-Qaeda], such as Aden and Hadramaut," al-Hamza said, noting that security breaches in those areas occur from time to time because the security forces are busy fighting the Houthis.

Yemen "will tackle and overcome all the security disruptions that terrorist groups seek to cause, especially to the delivery of aid to the targeted areas", he said.

Al-Hamza said Abyan province will ensure the delivery of this aid through local authorities or by working with community leaders.

"The leaders of Abyan province will not allow any threats to hamper the delivery of aid," he said.

The amount of aid is adequate, he said, "however the problem is that it does not always reach its intended recipients".

Residents of some areas are not receiving any aid, he said, while others receive twice the amount they are owed, which is depriving whole areas of aid and exacerbating the suffering of residents.

Abyan has suffered greatly, al-Hamza said, stressing that the countries providing assistance to Yemen, particularly the UAE, "must intensify their assistance to this stricken province".

In early 2011, parts of Abyan were overrun by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants, before Yemeni forces seized those territories back in the summer of 2012. They were recaptured by AQAP a second time in December 2015 during the unrest in Yemen, only to be liberated by pro-government forces in August 2016.

UAE supports security, development

Zinjibar district director Ghassan Sheikh said the delivery of aid to Abyan "cannot be disrupted on account of the presence of al-Qaeda cells" in parts of the province.

"Zinjibar now enjoys security and stability," he said, adding that the UAE played a big role in liberating Abyan from al-Qaeda last year.

"The task of preserving security in Abyan is also undertaken by the Security Belt [Forces], which are receiving great support from the UAE," he told Al-Mashareq.

He called on the emirates to continue to provide assistance for development and infrastructure "as Abyan province’s infrastructure was totally destroyed during the wars with al-Qaeda".

Sheikh also called on the UAE to supply security personnel in the province with weapons and military equipment "to enable them to carry out their duties and deter those who seek to impede the delivery of aid".

The UAE Red Crescent provided food aid to residents of Zinjibar, he said, as well as water and electricity assistance that helped the local authorities resume those services to the residents.

The Red Crescent also supplied Khanfar district with generators and food and other types of aid, Khanfar local council secretary-general Nasser al-Mansari told Al-Mashareq.

"The security situation in Khanfar district has improved significantly, and this will encourage the delivery of the various forms of aid and alleviate the suffering of residents," he said.

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