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Yemen: Newsline

France gives 1 million euros to WFP operations in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen, March 2006 - WFP has welcomed a French donation of one million euros to its projects in Yemen, to assist over 250,000 impoverished people as well as 14,000 Somali refugees.

WFP’s current five-year operation in Yemen, costing US$47 million, was launched in 2002 and emphasises supporting basic education and nutrition, particularly among women and children.

The UN agency also runs a separate US$3 million operation to assist the most vulnerable of the Somali refugees living in the country.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity and timing of this donation. Until now we have been constrained by severe shortfalls in funding,” said Mohamed El Kouhene, WFP’s representative in Yemen.

Economic problems

Scarce natural resources combined with one of the highest population growth rates in the world, has contributed to Yemen’s ongoing economic difficulties.

Over 40 percent of the population lives on less than US$2 per day and over 70 percent live in rural areas, where stagnating agricultural production has led to severe poverty and a double-digit unemployment rate.

In addition, the protracted war in Somalia since 1988 has led to an influx into Yemen of refugees, who represent a strain on the country’s already fragile economy.

Gender inequality

“Food insecurity has reached critical proportions in Yemen and over 50 percent of the children under five are malnourished,” stressed El Kouhene.

Gender inequality in education is also a problem and is especially evident in primary schools where the enrolment rate for girls is 61 percent compared to 86 percent for boys.

The illiteracy rate for girls over 15 years of age has also peaked at 71.5 percent.

Educating girls

WFP’s operation focuses in particular on girls’ education by providing parents with a food ration as an incentive to send their daughters to school.

Under its current operation, 70 percent of the agency’s resources are focused on providing assistance for 100,000 girls in 1,300 rural schools located in the poorest rural areas in the country.

The results have been impressive with an increased enrolment rate for girls, stabilised attendance and a reduced number of dropouts.

Of the one million euros donated by France, some 700,000 euros will be targeted to support WFP’s girls’ education programme, while the remaining 300,000 euros will be allocated to support the nutritional well being of 30,500 women and children.

“Educating girls is essential. They are the future of this country as mothers, teachers and active members of the society who will ensure that the population is educated and the country can move forward,” added El-Kouhene.

Somali refugees

As insecurity prevents the safe return of the Somali refugees, WFP also continues to assist with a monthly food ration the most vulnerable among them, in particular women, children and the elderly, all of whom are almost totally dependent on outside assistance.

“I hope that the French donation will contribute to promoting the education of girls and eradicating malnutrition.

At the same time we are pleased that WFP is maximising our support by earmarking US$300,000 to assist the Somali refugees, whose humanitarian situation is also of concern to France,” said French Ambassador to Yemen Alain Moureau.

WFP has been providing food assistance to Yemen since 1967, when the country was split into the North Yemen Arab Republic and the South People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.



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