UK 'inclined' to increase Yemen aid

Image caption, Alan Duncan said the government wants to provide help to Yemen now rather than later on

The government is "inclined" to increase the amount of aid it gives Yemen, according to ministers.

Attention has again focused on Yemen after it emerged it was the source of the ink cartridge bombs found on aircraft last month.

Helping with security issues while providing aid was the UK government's "highest priority", Alan Duncan said.

The international development minister said the government wanted to "underpin the country now" rather than later.

Mr Duncan said schools, hospitals and jobs were all receiving British support, as well as the estimated 300,000 refugees in the country.

But Mr Duncan told the Commons that some £3bn of pledged financial support, which has accumulated since 2006, remains unspent.

He said: "Yemen is of the highest priority to the coalition government.

"Subject to the Department for International Development's (DFID) bi-lateral aid review and the security situation in Yemen, DFID is inclined to increase its commitment to the country.

"We believe strongly in the power of development to give solid foundations to a country which is facing threats to its stability and economy.

"We want to underpin the country now rather than having to step in later should things get worse.

"I should stress very strongly we are not telling Yemen what to do, we are working with them as partners to support them in facing their challenges."

Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell recently visited Saudi Arabia for talks about Yemen's future.

And the UK's chief of the defence staff, General Sir David Richards, recently ruled out military intervention in Yemen, but added that the country must not be allowed to become a second Afghanistan.

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