UN to expand role in southern Yemen
UN coordinator urges more assistance to southern provinces amid conflict and worsening humanitarian situation.
The United Nations is in the process of expanding its role in southern Yemen amid a humanitarian crisis after a nearly two-and-half year war in the country.
UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, while on a visit to the capital Aden, met Yemen’s prime minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr to discuss the humanitarian situation and logistics in the war-torn Arab nation.
“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,” McGoldrick told reporters on Thursday at Aden airport.
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A Saudi-led military coalition was formed in March 2015 to support Yemen’s internationally recognised government in fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi armed group.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and has injured more than 40,000 to date, according to the UN.
The war and its economic effects are driving the largest food security emergency in the world with more than 17 million people facing dire food shortages. Nearly seven million of those are one step away from famine in Yemen.
The situation has been worsened by a cholera outbreak in the country that has claimed 1,5000 lives, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
McGoldrick expressed the need for Yemeni ministries to have sufficient budgets to be able to function properly.
“The UN and international community cannot replace these ministries,” the UN official said, highlighting the country’s cholera epidemic and food security. “We’re only here for the emergency side of things.”
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The government last year moved the central bank from rebel-held Sanaa to Aden, a move the UN said caused more than one million civil servants to stop receiving their salaries, pushing more families towards starvation.
McGoldrick said he met officials from the Arab 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, without elaborating.
The UN ranks the conflict in Yemen as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
In a recent report published last month, the UN accused the Saudi-led coalition of failing “to mitigate the impact of its operations on civilians”.
Meanwhile, the US-based Human Rights Watch group on Tuesday said that Saudi-led air raids in Yemen over the last month amount to “war crimes”.