UN plans to expand humanitarian role in south Yemen

Government and coalition officials hold talks with UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Aden

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The United Nations is in the process of expanding its role in southern Yemen, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator Jamie McGoldrick said in Aden on Thursday.

"We are bringing in more internationals to be based here and also to go to the provinces to support the humanitarian needs in those places," Mr McGoldrick said after talks with the Yemeni prime minister and Saudi and Emirati officials.

The coordinator said he discussed the humanitarian situation and logistics with prime minister Ahmed bin Daghr during his visit to the southern port city.

Yemen's internationally recognised government declared Aden its capital in mid-2015, after being driven out of Sanaa by Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The government has been supported by a Saudi-led military coalition since March 2015, including forces from the UAE.

Yemen's conflict has left 17 million people facing dire food shortages, including nearly seven million who are one step away from famine. The country is heavily dependent on food imports.

"We expressed the need for the ministries here and elsewhere to be functioning properly, for budgets to be given to them so they can do their work," said McGoldrick.

"The UN and international community cannot replace these ministries. We're only here for the emergency side of things," he said, highlighting the country's cholera epidemic and food security.

Mr McGoldrick said he also held talks with officials from the coalition.

"We visited the Emirati base and met with the coalition forces — the Emiratis and the Saudis — and we had a chat about the current situation and our expansion plans and what their own activities look like," he said.

The coalition announced on Thursday that a Saudi pilot was killed while providing air support for an operation against Al Qaeda militants in Yemen's Abyan province.

The Saudi air force plane crashed in the southern province on Wednesday night "due to a technical failure," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki Al Maliki told the official Saudi Press Agency.


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