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UNITED NATIONS, The United Nations stepped up its battle against starvation in Yemen with a 32-million-U.S. dollar transfer of funds from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to the humanitarian relief effort in the war-scarred country.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock and the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) David Beasley announced the contribution here at UN Headquarters.

"The funds will allow WFP to ramp up humanitarian logistical operations, including increases in humanitarian air cargo, transport more humanitarian workers, provide more accommodation spaces, including in Hodeidah, and expand emergency telecommunications," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The funds will also support the work of UN agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations engaged in the humanitarian relief operations, Dujarric said.

"Across Yemen, courageous humanitarians are already helping millions of people, but the needs are even greater," Beasley said. "The WFP is scaling up to increase its assistance from 8 million people a month to 12 million a month and this contribution from the CERF will help make that happen."

"To avert the worst in Yemen, all parties to the conflict must facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need," said Lowcock who is also chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"WFP provides outstanding logistical support, including transport, accommodation and communications support for many aid agencies, and this allocation will finance an urgent extension of those services," Lowcock said.

They both welcomed the recent decisions made in the capital of Sanaa to provide more visas for humanitarian workers, to investigate allegations of theft of food aid and to punish those responsible, the spokesman said.

"A ban was implemented on the sale of food aid intended for Yemenis with no income and more effective targeting and monitoring systems were put in place," he told reporters at a regular briefing.

"Increased procedures that have been agreed to by the government, including bio-metrics which help track the aid, and investigations will be going on," the spokesman said.

"The scale-up in the humanitarian operation aims to reach the most vulnerable people in priority districts, including internally displaced people, with the full range of life-saving assistance that is required in the world's largest humanitarian emergency," OCHA said in a statement.

"The rapid infusion of funds complements funding from the Yemen Humanitarian Fund in support of front-line responders," it added.

As for the political situation during a partial cease-fire, the spokesman said, "What is important is that all the parties cooperate with the United Nations to help move the process forward to ensure that the relative calm that we see in Hodeidah can be solidified, spread to other places in the country because that's something we have been calling for for quite some time, and engage in the political process."

"This has been a long road, a lot of ups and downs," he said. "I think we're pleased with what's happening right now but we need to move forward; we need to solidify what is happening on the ground."


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