Netherlands suspends aid to Yemeni government

The Dutch government made a decision yesterday to suspend a major portion of its aid to governmental institutions in Yemen. ‘We are suspending funding to institutions that have any connection whatsoever with the Yemeni government,’ said Ben Knapen, Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation. The move is intended as a political signal that the Netherlands deplores the actions of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime.

The measure will affect €14.7 million of the total €23.7 million budgeted by the Netherlands for Yemen in 2011. However, emergency aid and assistance channelled through civil society organisations (NGOs) will continue as usual. This includes sexual and reproductive healthcare programmes, such as assistance to women dealing with unwanted pregnancies and problems related to childbirth.

The Dutch move has been prompted by the Yemeni government’s continuing violence against demonstrators. On 21 March the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union adopted the conclusion that the EU and its member states would review their policy towards Yemen if violence were used against peaceful demonstrations. Last Sunday and yesterday there were more violent incidents involving the army and demonstrators, in which an estimated 15 people were killed and over 1,500 injured.