January 14, 2010 / 11:48 AM / 10 years ago

Yemen seeks $4 billion a year in economic aid

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen, facing a daunting array of security and economic problems, needs about $2 billion a year in aid to stay afloat and double that to turn its economy around, Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said on Thursday.

The impoverished Arab country has drawn international scrutiny since a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing said it was behind a failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on December 25.

“I am not an economist, but I think one is talking about probably $4 billion a year,” Qirbi told Reuters when asked how much aid was required to rescue an economy struggling with a sharply rising population and falling oil revenues.

He said the minimum needed in annual development aid was $2 billion, but added: “If you want a real impact, a real change in the economy, standards of living of population, addressing the issues of basic needs of Yemenis, you need more than that.”

Britain has called an international conference on Yemen for January 27 to discuss how to counter radicalization and coordinate aid. Diplomats say the West wants to hold the Yemeni government accountable on economic reforms to ensure aid money is properly spent in a country where corruption is rampant.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing, editing by Alistair Lyon

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