Daily Express…TAXPAYERS are being forced to contribute millions of pounds to job-creation schemes in Yemen in an attempt to counter a surge of Muslim terrorist activity.

The Government is to hike overseas aid to the Arabian republic by almost 50 per cent to £37million next year amid fears it is becoming a haven for Al Qaeda militants.

Most of the cash will be pumped into new roads, reservoirs and dams with the aim of providing jobs for around 300,000 jobless Yemenis.

Increased aid is understood to be part of a new blitz by Britain, the US and other Western nations.

But the move has sparked anger about Treasury cash being lavished on work-creation schemes abroad while dole queues grow in Britain.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “British taxpayers already spend huge amounts on aid. Frankly this extra money is needed at home.

“It may be a well-intentioned proposal, but with huge numbers of people losing their jobs in Britain we should not be spending a ­fortune trying to solve Yemeni unemployment. When people pay tax they are told it is to protect them if they fall on hard times. We are in those hard times now and our Government’s priority should be helping British people get back on their feet.”

Britain gave £25million to aid projects in the country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsular last year, but the figure could rise to £40million in 2011-12. More than £120million of British taxpayers’ money is due to go to the war?ravaged nation in the next four years.

Some officials claim boosting economic development and ­tack- ling poverty is the key to ­combating the growth of terrorist sympathies in the Yemen, where failed Christmas Day airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is thought to have been trained. Unemployment in the country is estimated at around 35 per cent of the working- age population and ­rising. Yemen is also facing a ­growing economic crisis as the country’s oil is expected to run out by 2018. And it is suffering from an acute water shortage.

But critics of the aid policy point out that many Al Qaeda terrorists have come from wealthy backgrounds rather than out of poverty.

Yemen’s population is one of the fastest growing in the world with around a third of its 24 million ­citizens reckoned to be under 24.

The Department for International Development said: “The UK is increasingly concerned about the situation in Yemen and the number and scale of the challenges facing the Government of Yemen.

“Yemen is the only low-income country in the Middle East – 35 per cent of Yemenis live under the ­poverty line.

“It is becoming increasingly unstable. Any further deterioration of security and stability in Yemen will have great implications not only for the Yemeni people, but also for the region and beyond.”

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