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UN says to expand role in south Yemen

© AFP | Yemen pro-government forces trained by the United Arab Emirates and backed by the US ousted Al=Qaeda fighters from the oil-rich Shabwa province

ADEN (AFP) - 

The United Nations is in the process of expanding its role in southern Yemen, UN humanitarian coordinator 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," McGoldrick told reporters at Aden airport.

The coordinator said he met Yemen's prime minister to discuss the humanitarian situation and logistics during his visit to the city.

Yemen's internationally recognised government declared Aden its capital in mid-2015, after being driven out of Sanaa by Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels.

The government has been supported by a Saudi-led military coalition since March 2015, and since then more than 8,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The war has left 17 million people facing dire food shortages including nearly seven million who are one step away from famine in the country, which 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.

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 toward starvation.

McGoldrick said he met with 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.

© 2017 AFP