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Political Conflict Surfaces, Government Presents Detailed Report about Flood Damages
Hasan Al-Zaidi (YEMEN POST
Article Date: November 10, 2008
The human disaster that afflicted the eastern provinces and the subsequent relief acts have caused a massive political crisis as the opposition Islah Party accuses the ruling party of using the relief to help them in the next parliamentary elections which are due to be held in less than six month, rather than helping those in most need.
Meanwhile, there has been almost a total absence for any role by Hadrami businessmen, especially those who run international companies and own huge wealth in Gulf countries.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh was the first to arrive in the area and his early arrival was a key factor in activating relief efforts which started with fundraising and collecting donations from provinces and the outside world.
Donations received so far by the government includes $100 million donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is considered the biggest donation Yemen received from outside countries.
What was provided by Saudi Arabia is equal to the sum allocated by the Yemeni government to address the disaster in the future, YR 20 billion ($100 million). The Kuwaiti government also donated $3 million last week. The Yemeni Hayel Sa'eed Ana'am Group of Companies also donated YR 200.
Likewise, the Yemeni community in Riyadh contributed YR 12 million; Yemeni Company for Tobacco YR 30 million, Islamic Conference Organization YR 500 million and Prince Al-Walid bin Talal YR 30 million.
Further, the National Solidarity Council and Islah Charitable Society granted YR 10 million each. Arab Development Fund contributed YR 600 million. The total contributions of businessmen and charitable societies have reached YR 21 billion.
Nine Arab airplanes loaded with relief requirements arrived last week in Al-Mukalla Airport and these planes belong to Oman, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Jordan. The relief requirements include foodstuffs, medicines, electrical generators and mobile medical teams.
Aside from its catastrophic results, the disaster and relief activities have entered into a political conflict circle, particularly when the country witnesses an unprecedented crisis under the current and single tendencies of the General People Congress (GPC) and the calls for boycotting the forthcoming elections by the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP).
A press release for JMP in Hadramout warned against exploiting the disaster by the ruling party (GPC), as leading opposition activist Abdul Rahman Bafadhel demanded that this disaster should not be turned into a "milking cow".
Bafadhel accused the government of hindering the inflow of relief activities of charitable societies, hinting that they sought to monopolize these activities to their institutions.
For its part, Yemeni parliament demanded the government and Prime Minister Ali Mujawar, while attending last Wednesday's session, to be transparent in their tries to address the disaster and to present impartial reports about it.
During the session, Mujawar briefed the parliament about the damages and mentioned that the storms damaged 90 percent of the electricity network in Hadramout and Al-Mahrah provinces, while revealing that telecommunications have been repaired at 98 percent and electricity at 70 percent.
As for casualties, Mujawar said that over 100 died and 28 are still reported missing. The material damages include partial or complete destruction of 2,323 houses, 1821 in Hadramout and 472 in Al-Maharah as well as 25 in Lahj. 180 schools were partly or completely damaged.
Further, 76 shops were damaged in Hadramout and 23 vehicles and trucks were washed away by floods, mostly in Hadramout. Over 40,000 acres of farms and crops were washed away. The same applies to 45 fishing boats in Al-Mahrah and 115 public facilities of water and irrigation canals were badly damaged.
Over 150 wells were completely damaged and 130,000 date trees and 104,000 bee hives were washed away in Hadramout. Similarly, animal losses reached 7,000 heads of cattle.
Figures do reflect the volume of the disaster at a time altercations are dominating the field with political parties giving no attention to the feelings of their fellow brothers in Hadramout.The disaster needs intensified and organized efforts so that its direct affects can be eased or reduced; however, it seems that the existing feverish climate of elections was to blame.