The Gulf country of Yemen has most recently been in the news for its battles with Somali pirates, who routinely seize commercial boats off its western coast. But Yemen's problems run much deeper. Its northern and southern halves united two decades ago, but tensions between the two regions have stoked violence, including a brief civil war, ever since. Yemen is also wracked with poverty, and suffers from a 40 percent unemployment rate. The weak central government has asked the World Bank and European Union for help in stemming possible summer food shortages. Last October, fierce storms and floods destroyed part of the city of Shibam, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showing damage here. After the 2008 storm, the government declared two provinces disaster zones -- a term that could easily apply to the entire country.
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