Monday 21 January 2019

Saudi Arabia to transfer £1.4bn after urgent Yemen plea

Riyadh said the funds would help address the ‘deteriorating economic situation faced by the Yemeni people’.

Saudi flag
Saudi flag

By Jim Davies

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered a transfer of two billion dollars (£1.4 billion) to Yemen amid fears for the war-torn country’s currency.

The move came a day after Yemen’s Saudi-backed prime minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghir called on the kingdom and its allies to save the currency from “complete collapse”.

Saudi Arabia said in a statement on Wednesday that funds would be deposited in Yemen’s Central Bank to help address the “deteriorating economic situation faced by the Yemeni people”.

The Saudi and internationally backed Yemeni government created an alternative Central Bank from the one in Yemen’s rebel-held capital of Sanaa, moving it to the southern port city of Aden last year.

However, the governor of the Sanaa bank, Monasser al-Quaiti, said last year that the Saudi-led coalition had blocked 13 flights bringing cash into the country and was “strangling” its economy. The kingdom accuses the Houthis of stealing government revenues meant for public services and of manipulating the exchange rate.

Yemen’s war began nearly three years ago when a Saudi-led coalition began carrying out air strikes against Yemeni rebels, known as Houthis, after the rebels overran Sanaa and forced Yemen’s government into exile.

The war has killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced some two million people and pushed millions to the brink of famine. The United Nations has called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Yemeni rial, trading at 250 to the dollar (345 to the pound), has lost half its value since the war began in March 2015. Food and fuel prices have skyrocketed and hundreds of thousands of civil servants have not been paid in more than a year, including doctors and nurses at government-run hospitals.

The economic collapse has contributed to the breakdown of basic services, which in turn has fuelled a cholera outbreak that has killed some 2,000 people and infected about one million in total so far.

Press Association

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