ADEN // The Emirates Red Crescent has rebuilt 64 schools in the war-ravaged Yemeni province of Aden, along with health, sewage, water and electricity facilities.
Another 20 schools are still in the process of being rebuilt, while the organisation expects to sign contracts to begin work on 26 others in the next three days, the ERC's Aden representative, Brigadier General Abdullah Al Dhaheri, told The National on Saturday.
He said it would cost the ERC Dh26.3 million to rebuild these 26 schools.
In total, 154 schools in Aden were damaged or completely destroyed in four months of heavy fighting between pro-government forces and Houthi rebels that began in March.
Brig Gen Al Dhaheri said the 44 remaining damaged schools were still housing displaced residents and so rebuilding work could not begin until they were able to leave.
The southern province was liberated by pro-government forces backed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in July. Since then, the ERC has led efforts to rebuild Aden’s severely damaged infrastructure.
The ERC is also working to rebuild the Republican Palace in Aden city, which was the home of Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi before he was forced to flee the country when fighting broke out in the province March. The palace was damaged during Houthi and coalition air strikes in the early stages of the conflict.
Meanwhile, Brig Gen Al Dhaheri said the ERC has provided Aden’s cleaning office with four cars and several trucks, and would be sending them another 160 cars, 1,600 trucks and four lorries in the next two weeks.
The organisation has also paid six months’ worth of salaries to employees of Aden’s water office, and provided the body with 45 water pumps at a cost of Dh22.7m, he said. This enabled the office to restore the water supply to all residents in August.
A one-megawatt electricity generator and 14 small generators provided by the ERC have also helped to restore electricity to the entire province, Brig Gen Al Dhaheri said, adding that this was just a temporary measure until the organisation could repair Aden’s electricity grid.
Outside of Aden, the ERC has also distributed 420-megawatt generators to Lahj, Dalea and Abyan provinces.
Republic Hospital, the main hospital in Aden city, has been rebuilt by the ERC at a cost of Dh1.3m, Brig Gen Al Dhaheri said, while the organisation has also rebuilt 30 pharmacies across the province at a cost of Dh337,000, along with nine clinics, costing Dh2m.
However, Brig Gen Al Dhaheri said the most important health facility rebuilt by his organisation was a kidney dialysis centre, which serves 460 patients, some of whom had been forced to leave Aden for treatment.
The ERC has also rebuilt specialist units at hospitals across the city, including a cancer centre, a prosthetics centre and two maternity centres.
In addition to this rebuilding work, the ERC has also distributed a total of 130,096 food baskets containing wheat, rice, milk and cooking oil in Aden, Lahj, Abyan, Shabwah and Taez provinces.
Esam Al Shaeri, undersecretary of the Aden-based Sah Foundation for Defending Rights and Freedoms, said that as a result of the ERC’s work in Aden, the province’s residents now considered the UAE to be their second country.
“The Emirates not only participated in the liberation of Aden, it is also the only country that worked hard to resume regular life in Aden city by rebuilding the schools and hospitals, and providing the institutions with different kinds of support,” he said.
Mr Al Shaeri added that he hoped the UAE would also rebuild the damaged and destroyed homes of Aden’s residents.
Meanwhile, at least 11 Houthis and eight pro-government fighters were killed in coalition air strikes and clashes in Yemen’s south on Friday, military sources said.
The night-time air strikes targeted two rebel vehicles on a road linking the central province of Ibb to Dalea further south, they said, while pro-government forces clashed with the Houthis and allied renegade army units on the outskirts of Damt, Dalea’s second-largest city.
In Saudi Arabia, woman and her three-month-old baby were killed in the southern city of Najran on Friday when a shell fired from Yemen hit their home, the UAE state news agency Wam reported on Saturday.
* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse