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Warning, Call for Aid for Yemen

Pro-democracy protesters demonstrate to call for the prosecution of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, March 7, 2013.
Officials from nearly 40 countries and organizations meeting on the situation in Yemen have called on donors to deliver long-promised aid, and warned various Yemeni and outside groups not to try to disrupt the country’s transition process, which is entering a critical phase. Britain hosted a Thursday meeting of the Friends of Yemen group.

Donor countries have pledged $7.8 billion in aid to Yemen’s transition. But much of it has not been delivered, leading Saudi Arabia’s co-chair of the event, Minister of State Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, to issue a demand.

“I think the time has come now to honor our pledges," he said. "Yemen has achieved tremendous progress since it adopted the Gulf initiative. So, yes, it is on the right path.”

Madani said Saudi Arabia has delivered 93 percent of its pledged aid, but officials say other nations lag far behind.

Standing with him at a news conference, Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi said his country is at a “very important and dangerous crossroads” in its transition, with the much-anticipated National Dialogue set to start in 10 days and presidential elections expected early next year.

The meeting’s host, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, also called for the pledged money to be used now to improve the lives of Yemen’s people. And he warned anyone, including terrorist groups and the supporters of the former president, not to try to disrupt this year’s political transition plan.

“Any attempt to spoil the process, to interfere with elections or undermine the national dialogue will be met with a serious response and further measures from the United Nations, including the U.N. Security Council,” Hague said.

Hague noted that all five permanent members of the Security Council sent officials to Thursday’s meeting.

He also called on the United Nations' Iran sanctions committee to urgently investigate a weapons shipment seized off the coast of Yemen that he said appears to have come from Iran. Hague said such a shipment violates a Security Council resolution and destabilizes the entire region.