SINGAPORE - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched an initiative in Singapore to connect the Yemeni diaspora and private sector with local communities in need in strife-ridden Yemen.
The collaboration was established with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UNDP and the Arab Association of Singapore on Thursday.
UNDP Country Director for Yemen, Mikiko Tanaka, told The Straits Times that the Arab Association of Singapore was selected as a pioneer partner in the rehabilitation programme, known as "Yemen Our Home," because of its role in binding the Arab community in Singapore, and bridging relations with other races through humanitarian, educational and cultural activities.
Ms Tanaka added that the ties of the Arab Association, also known as Alwehdah or 'unity' in Arabic, with Yemenis and the Yemeni diaspora could contribute in the rehabilitation efforts for the warn-torn Middle Eastern country.
Conflict was sparked after a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign in March last year in support of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-allied Houthis.
The United Nations says nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the fighting.
Ms Tanaka said the people of Yemen face adversity and suffering, and require the support of the international community.
"Yemen has been in war, a full civil war for the last nine months. Of a population of 25 million, over 21 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. The people are suffering under hardships from war, but also economic difficulties,' she stated.
She said the Arab Association, with their ancestral links to Yemen, particularly Hadhramawt in Yemen, could provide moral support to the local communities, business advice or even financing for businesses "in a very difficult environment of war."
UN Goodwill Ambassador for 'Yemen Our Home', Dr Saadaldeen Talib, who was formerly Yemen's Minister of Industry and Trade, identified areas of opportunities in the energy, education or health sectors.
Both Alwehdah President, Khalid Basharahil, and Singapore's Ambassador to Yemen, Helmi Talib, also hailed the signing of the memorandum.
Mr Khalid said: "We feel privileged that although we come from a small country with a small Arab population, they have taken us to be the first in their partnership to help the people of Yemen."
Mr Helmi Talib said the choice of Singapore as a launching pad for the UNDP initiative is a recognition of Alwehdah.
"It reflects the depth of the relationship between the Yemeni diaspora in Singapore and back home," said Mr Talib. "Right from the beginning of Singapore, these relationships existed; they've continued over time, over the last 200, 300 years."