Donors pledge $6.4bn in aid to Yemen

A group of international donors pledge $6.4 billion to aid impoverished Yemen.

Yemen flag

RUYADH - A group of international donors pledged $6.4 billion of aid to Yemen on Tuesday to help the impoverished country rebuild after it was hit by political unrest and an insurgency waged by al Qaeda, a senior World Bank official said.

Yemen is in a delicate transition to democracy. Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule formally ended in February when Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected under the terms of an agreement crafted by his Gulf neighbours, with U.S. and United Nations backing. The deal envisages elections in 2014.

"The total number is $6.396 billion, to fund the short term and portions of the long term," Inger Andersen, vice president for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, said at a donors' meeting in Riyadh.

The figure includes $3.25 billion in aid already pledged earlier by Saudi Arabia, of which a $1 billion loan has been paid to Yemen's central bank.

The United States, which wants to prevent instability in Yemen from spreading in the oil-rich region, said it would provide $345 million in security, humanitarian and development assistance this year.

The figure, contained in a speech by U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Rajiv Shah that was distributed to media, was more than double last year's figure. Of the total, $117 million will be in the form of humanitarian assistance, Shah's speech said.

Britain is to provide a grant of 196 million pounds.

The aid total pledged on Tuesday appeared to cover Yemen's own estimate of the assistance it will need until the end of the election.

A handout from Yemen's Planning and International Cooperation Ministry said that by 2014, the country would need $300 million for a peaceful transfer of power, $445 million for security, $3.5 billion for humanitarian projects and reconstruction, and $470 million to stabilise the economy.