Skip to main content

Yemeni government vows to raise public salaries following protests

Protests over soaring prices and the plummeting riyal prompt promise, though when the raises will come into force is unclear
Protesters block a street with burning tires after the Yemeni Riyal has severely plunged against foreign currencies, in Aden, Yemen 2 September, 2018. (Reuters)

Yemen’s government agreed late on Sunday to hand thousands of civil servants a pay rise following protests in Aden over rising prices.

Hundreds of people took to the southern province of Aden’s streets – burning tyres and blocking roads – demanding the government delivers aid.

Aden city now serves as the government’s de facto capital following a 2015 takeover of Sanaa by Houthi rebels, though President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his ministers largely operate from Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh, where they met to take the pay-hike decision.

Yemeni national news agency Saba reported that Hadi agreed "an increase in civil sector salaries, including retirees and contractors”.

However, no further information has emerged over when this raise would take effect.

Amid a brutal war – pitting pro-Hadi forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels – Yemen’s economy has suffered badly.

Many public sector employees have not received their salaries for over a year, while the Yemeni rial has lost two-thirds of its value against the US dollar since the war broke out in 2015.

Sunday’s demonstrators, led by the General Confederation of Southern Workers' Unions, promised further civil disobedience until their demands are met.

Already the Arab world’s poorest country, Yemen’s war has pushed the country into greater poverty, with the United Nations calling it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

According to the UN, 22.2 million of Yemen’s population of 29 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Competition over the central bank between the government and the Houthis – who have set up an alternative bank in Sanaa after the former moved it to Aden – has contributed to the insecurity.

As a result of the economic downturn prices on many staples have rocketed, leaving them out of reach for many Yemenis.

Bottled water is one such commodity that’s cost has soared, amid a cholera crisis that has affected as many as a million Yemenis due to a lack of access to clean water.

Hadi to undergo tests

Hadi will undergo medical tests in the United States later this month, a minister said Monday.

Information Minister Moammer al-Eryani said in a tweet that Hadi was travelling to the US to attend the UN General Assembly, which opens on 18 September in New York.

"He will undergo medical examinations while there," Eryani tweeted, without providing further details on the nature of the tests that the Yemeni president is expected to undertake.

Yemen's state news agency Saba published a statement confirming Hadi had left Sunday night for the United States, where he would undergo a "routine medical examination". 

Hadi, 73, who has lived in exile in Riyadh since 2015, on Sunday chaired a cabinet session in the Saudi capital. 

There have been no reports that Hadi has been ill.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.