Amid Violence, Decreased Humanitarian Aid, World Must Not Leave Yemen Behind, Emergency Relief Coordinator Tells Security Council
Speakers Denounce Houthis’ Military Expansion, Refusal to Engage in Mediation
After more than seven years of war, Yemen is becoming a chronic emergency, marked by hunger, disease and other miseries that are rising faster than aid agencies can reverse, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Security Council today, as the Special Envoy for the country called for joint efforts by Yemenis and the international community to break the entrenched cycle of violence.
As the world turns its attention to new crises unfolding in Ukraine, Mr. Griffiths, who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, cited grave risks for inertia and fatigue in attenuating the severe conditions in Yemen. “We must not give in to those forces,” he insisted. He drew attention to the 16 March high-level pledging event to alleviate the suffering of the traumatized Yemeni people, with aid agencies seeking nearly $4.3 billion to help 17 million in 2022 alone.
New nationwide assessments confirm that 23.4 million people now need assistance — about three of every four people. Among them are 19 million people who will go hungry in the coming months — an increase of almost 20 per cent from 2021 — while more than 160,000 of them will face famine-like conditions.
Noting that Yemen relies on commercial imports for 90 per cent of its food and nearly all its fuel, he said one third of its wheat comes from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, where the conflict sparked on 24 February may push food prices – which already doubled in 2021 — even higher. Fuel imports have fallen sharply through Hudaydah port, where volumes in February were less than half the average.
More than 75 per cent of the $14 billion generated by United Nations appeals has come from six donors — the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Commission — whose funds have staved off mass famine, he said.
But such gains are at now at risk: two thirds of major United Nations programmes having already been scaled down or closed, with deep cuts made to food aid, water, health care and relief services for people fleeing violence. “If we have one message for the world today, it is this: do not stop now,” he emphasized. Member States must demonstrate that “out of the headlines does not mean left behind”.
Detailing the violence, Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, said that over the last month, artillery shelling in Taiz again inflicted civilian casualties and damage to residential buildings, while hostilities have been reported in Sa’adah and Al Dali’ governorates. Air strikes continue, primarily on front lines in Marib and Hajjah. The United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) meanwhile is working to rebuild communication between the parties, re-establish avenues for de-escalation and enhance monitoring of the ports, while expanding its patrolling reach.
“Through the ebbs and flows of the conflict, the fact remains that a military approach is not going to produce a sustainable solution,” he said, noting that he is exploring options with the parties for immediate de-escalation measures that could reduce violence, ease the fuel crisis and improve freedom of movement. In particular, he looked forward to engaging with leaders of Ansar Allah — known as the Houthis — in Sana’a.
He also updated on the series of structured consultations launched in February, encouraged by the engagement from Yemeni political parties, components, experts and civil society representatives, and describing as “very constructive” his recent discussion with Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi. “I hope these consultations mark the beginning of a serious and structured conversation between Yemenis about finding an end to the war.” He called for a serious, constructive and solution-oriented political debate, with civil discourse brought back to guide the settlement of the conflict.
In the ensuing debate, delegates affirmed that a Yemen-led peace process is the only way for the country to forge sustainable peace and voiced support for the Special Envoy’s structured consultations, urging all stakeholders to engage constructively in them.
In that context, the representative of the United States called on parties to allow the Special Envoy to visit Sana’a, a trip which is “long overdue”. The Houthis have detained another of her delegation’s local staff, who was abducted while shopping at a market and she called “loudly and clearly” for the release of current and former employees, pointing to resolution 2624 (2022), which applies the arms embargo explicitly on the Houthis.
Brazil’s delegate reiterated support for making women, youth and civil society representatives an integral part of the consultations. As the conflict rages along nearly 50 front lines, civilians in Marib are under threat from the Houthis. “We must do all we can to keep Yemen at the top of the agenda,” he stressed.
On that point, India’s representative emphasized the need for sustained and focused diplomacy to bring the peace process back on track, noting that any such framework should consider the legitimate aspirations of all Yemenis. He welcomed the resumption of consultations between Saudi Arabia and the Southern Transitional Council as a step in the right direction.
Echoing comments by the United Kingdom, France and other delegates, the representative of the United Arab Emirates, President of the Security Council, spoke in his national capacity to denounce the Houthis’ refusal to engage in United Nations mediation efforts and expansion of their military presence. Condemning their drone attack on a Riyadh refinery, repeated attacks on Abha Airport and the missile launched towards the Red Sea, he called for the imposition of sanctions on the Houthis “until they realize that there is no alternative to a political solution that is chosen by the Yemeni people”.
Rounding out the discussion, Yemen’s delegate blamed the Houthis for escalating the violence and praised the recent resolution describing them, for the first time, as a “terrorist organization”. For its part, the Government is doing everything possible to relaunch development projects and ensure the restoration of the economy. He expected Government reforms to have a deep impact — stabilizing the currency, addressing inflation and ultimately tackling the humanitarian crisis. He invited the Council to put more pressure on the Houthis and Iran’s regime in efforts to stop the bloodshed.
Also speaking today were representatives of Norway, Ghana, Albania, Gabon, China, Kenya, Ireland, Russian Federation and Mexico.
The meeting began at 10:29 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.
HANS GRUNDBERG, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, speaking via video teleconference, called for a joint concerted effort by the country’s people and the international community to break the never-ending cycle of violence and lay the foundation for a sustainable peace. Over the last month, the exchange of artillery shelling in Taiz has again inflicted civilian casualties and damage to residential buildings, while hostilities have also been reported in Sa’adah and Al Dali’ governorates. Air strikes continue, primarily on frontlines in Marib and Hajjah. In Marib, Ansar Allah — known as the Houthis — continue their offensive, which for over two years has caused enormous harm to civilians.
He said that in Hudaydah’s southern districts, there are reports of civilian casualties. The United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) is working to rebuild communication between the parties, re-establish avenues for de-escalation and enhance the Mission’s monitoring of the ports, while expanding its patrolling reach. He joined the Head of UNMHA, Major General Michael Beary, in his call to maintain the civilian nature of the ports, which are a lifeline for millions of Yemenis. He added that the violence spilled into the region on 21 February, with shrapnel from a drone intercepted over Jizan City’s King Abdullah Airport wounding 16 civilians.
Explaining that frontlines sometimes go quiet in one part of the country, only to intensify elsewhere, he emphasized that civilians always pay an unacceptable price for choices they have no influence over. “Through the ebbs and flows of the conflict, the fact remains that a military approach is not going to produce a sustainable solution,” he said, insisting that years of fighting have only destroyed Yemen’s institutions, economy, social fabric and environment. He cited reports by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that at least 47 children have been killed or maimed in Yemen just during the first two months of 2022. More than 10,200 children were verified injured or killed over the past seven years, with actual numbers likely much higher.
On the worsening economic front, he said that in Aden and the surrounding governorates, the Yemeni riyal has decreased by 20 per cent against the United States dollar since January, raising concerns of another precipitous decline. “Tangible measures are needed to stabilize the currency,” he stressed. Throughout Yemen, access to fuel is increasingly difficult, and particularly acute in Ansar Allah-controlled areas. Since his last briefing, one cooking gas ship has entered Hudaydah ports; two fuel vessels remain in the coalition holding area waiting for clearance.
Alongside the violence, he said Yemenis continue to live with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. The closure of Sana’a airport prevents many Yemenis in the north from traveling abroad, while the proliferation of checkpoints, and the closure of access points, especially in Taiz, impede movement within the country. Women and girls face additional movement restrictions with the imposition of a male guardian. Against these exceptional challenges, Yemeni women are coming together to advocate powerfully for political change, he said, pointing to Taiz, where women, youth and civil society recently launched a campaign to challenge the arbitrary demand for a guardian when women apply for a passport.
On the political front, he said he is exploring options with the parties for immediate de-escalation measures that could reduce violence, ease the fuel crisis and improve freedom of movement. “With Ramadan approaching, I hope the parties will engage swiftly and constructively with my proposals,” he said. He looked forward to engaging with Ansar Allah leaders in Sana’a on this issue.
Since February, his Office has launched a series of structured consultations and he is encouraged by the engagement from Yemeni political parties, components, experts and civil society representatives, describing as “very constructive” his recent discussion with Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi. He also has held bilateral meetings with leaders from the General People’s Congress party, as well as with delegations from the Islah party, the Yemeni Socialist Party, the Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization and the Southern Transitional Council. He thanked the Government of Jordan for facilitating the holding of these meetings in Amman, as well as the Security Council and other Member States †hat have shown support for the consultations.
Noting that his focus is on identifying short- and longer-term priorities for the agenda of the multitrack process envisaged for the Framework, he said he is also exploring guiding principles for the process and gathering an understanding of the participants’ vision for the future. “I hope these consultations mark the beginning of a serious and structured conversation between Yemenis about finding an end to the war.” In the coming weeks, he will hold consultations with more Yemeni political components, security and economic actors and civil society representatives in Amman and Aden, and has strongly encouraged all involved to include at least 30 per cent women representatives in the talks.
“Following all these years of war, there is a need for serious, constructive and solution-oriented political debate in Yemen,” he said. A civil political discourse must be brought back to guide the settlement of the conflict. “Together, we need to pursue solutions that will not only end the war, but also build the foundations for a sustainable peace.”
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that after more than seven years of war, Yemen is becoming a chronic emergency, carrying grave risks for inertia and fatigue. “We must not give into those forces,” he insisted. On 16 March, the Secretary-General will join the President of Switzerland and the Foreign Minister of Sweden in hosting a high-level pledging event for the country, as aid agencies are seeking nearly $4.3 billion to help more than 17 million people in 2022.
Stressing that hunger, disease and other miseries are rising faster than aid agencies can roll them back, he said new nationwide assessments confirm that 23.4 million people now need assistance — about three of every four people. Among them are 19 million people who will go hungry in the coming months — an increase of almost 20 per cent from 2021; more than 160,000 of them will face famine-like conditions. On the security front, he said that despite calls for dialogue and a ceasefire, hostilities persist along nearly 50 front lines, notably in Marib, where the Houthi offensive continues, and Hajjah, where clashes have escalated sharply in recent weeks. Noting that hostilities killed or injured more than 2,500 civilians in 2021 and forced nearly 300,000 people to flee their homes — many of them more than once — he said that a total 4.3 million people have now been displaced in Yemen since 2015.
The war has also pushed more families into destitution, he said. “Unfortunately, the outlook is grim”. Noting that Yemen relies on commercial imports for 90 per cent of its food and nearly all its fuel, he said one third of its wheat comes from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, where the conflict may restrict supply and push food prices — which already nearly doubled in Yemen in 2021 — even higher. Fuel imports have also fallen sharply through Hudaydah port, where volumes in February were less than half the average. “Yemen’s import-dependent economy is even more fragile now than just a few weeks ago,” he acknowledged, stressing that it needs foreign-exchange injections to avoid further damage.
Recalling that since 2015 donors have spent nearly $14 billion on United Nations appeals to reduce the suffering created by Yemen’s war and economic collapse, he said more than 75 per cent of that sum has come from just six donors: the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Germany and the European Commission. Detailing what those funds have achieved, he said there has been no mass starvation in Yemen, “an important success”. Initial research indicates that humanitarian action also has helped keep morbidity and mortality rates steady — meaning that many more people would almost have fallen sick and died without such support, “another critical result”, he added. In 2021, more than 200 aid agencies — most of them Yemeni non-governmental organizations — worked in coordination through the United Nations response plan to help 12 million people every month; they reach all 333 districts.
At the same time, “delivering this aid is much harder than it should be,” he acknowledged. He expressed alarm over growing insecurity for United Nations personnel and other aid workers, including recent staff abductions, noting that efforts are ongoing at all levels to secure their release and stressing that such kidnappings — in addition to a rise in carjackings — could signal the start of a dangerous trend. Houthi authorities also continue to detain two United Nations staff who were arrested in Sana’a in November 2020 — an unacceptable violation of United Nations privileges and immunities.
Beyond the security risks, he said aid agencies face bureaucratic and other obstacles, which are especially severe in Houthi-controlled areas, where they include restricted movements and attempts to interfere with aid operations. Many more improvements are still needed, including in data collection and monitoring, activities that remain a top priority for agencies and donors. The Inter-Agency Humanitarian Evaluation — to be published in the coming weeks — will be a “tremendous” help in this work.
On another positive note, he said Houthi authorities in Sana’a signed on 5 March a memorandum of understanding on the Safer tanker, confirming in principle the agreement announced in February and bringing the world one step closer towards solving a dangerous problem. However, all these achievements are now at risk. Aid agencies are facing unprecedented funding shortages, with two thirds of major United Nations programmes having already been scaled down or closed, with deep cuts made to food aid, water, health care and relief services for people fleeing violence. “If we have one message for the world today, it is this: don’t stop now,” he emphasized. He called on the United Nations and Member States to keep working together to help the millions of Yemenis in urgent need. “They must show that out of the headlines does not mean left behind,” he said, calling for generous pledging and prompt disbursement at the 16 March event.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), urging all parties to engage constructively with the Special Envoy, recalled that a recent text imposed an arms embargo on the Houthis for the first time. That resolution was also resolute in its support for the continued flow of humanitarian commodities to Yemeni ports, he said, stressing: “The Council has not targeted humanitarian activities or trade.” Noting that the conflict clearly continues to have a devastating toll, he urged all States to step up their support at the Yemen pledging conference to be held on 16 March, and which seeks to fill a funding goal of $4.27 billion.
AMARNATH ASOKAN (India) regretted that the Council’s calls for a nationwide ceasefire have yet to be implemented, and that the conflict continues to threaten not only Yemen but also the broader region. Strongly condemning attacks against Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region, he described reports of the potential use of Yemen’s Red Sea ports as a staging ground for such attacks as deeply worrying. He also welcomed a recently signed memorandum of understanding on access to the Safer oil tanker, calling for its swift operationalization to avoid an environmental crisis. He also emphasized the need for sustained and focused diplomacy to bring the peace process back on track, noting that any framework for that process should consider the legitimate aspirations of all Yemenis. Welcoming the resumption of consultations between Saudi Arabia and the Southern Transitional Council as a step in the right direction, he also welcomed that the multitrack process initiated by the Special Envoy includes an economic track. A sustained solution lies through concrete economic measures that benefit the people of Yemen, he said.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) said that the upcoming pledging conference on Yemen presents an important opportunity to mobilize attention and financial support for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country. Stressing that it is children who are paying the highest price as violence escalates, she pointed out that in the first two months of 2022, 47 children were killed or injured. She reminded parties of their obligation to respect international humanitarian law and international human rights. Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected, she said, also underlining the importance of ensuring the safety and security of United Nations and humanitarian personnel. “De-escalation, a nationwide ceasefire and a turn towards a political solution is the only path forward to end the cycle of violence,” she said, emphasizing women’s meaningful contribution to the Special Envoy’s Framework consultations, as well as their leadership in mediation over communal water resources, which showcases that inclusion is not a talking point, but a smart approach to building peace.
CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) condemned and called for an end to attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen, which runs counter to international law. Recent dangerous escalations have resulted in the highest civilian death toll in at least three years, she said, calling for an urgent nationwide ceasefire and for a return to the negotiating table. Welcoming the Special Envoy’s ongoing consultations with all Yemeni stakeholders, she called on the parties to make space for women in all stages of the peace process. Meanwhile, humanitarian operations in the country require urgent funding, she said, expressing hope that the upcoming pledging conference will offer hope in that regard. She also underlined the importance of helping to stabilize Yemen’s economy — noting that 30 per cent of the country’s imports are being affected by the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine — and reaffirmed Ghana’s support for a Yemeni-owned and -led peace process under the auspices of the United Nations.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) reiterated support for the Special Envoy’s efforts to forge a structured inclusive process, encouraging all stakeholders to engage fully without preconditions and urging regional actors to do their utmost to support them. Unity of purpose and unequivocal support are assets the Council can provide to the Special Envoy. Stakeholders and social groups not involved in the conflict will nonetheless be essential to forging peace and he reiterated support for making women, youth and civil society representatives an integral part of the consultations. As the conflict rages along nearly 50 front lines, civilians in Marib, including 1 million internally displaced persons, are under threat from the Houthis, who continue to disregard international law. He expressed support for the United Nations Economic Framework for Yemen and called for easing restrictions along Red Sea ports and around Sana’a airport, calling it “essential” to maintain the civilian nature of the Hudaydah ports. He encouraged foreign exchange injections into the central bank, as oil and other commodity shocks emanating from the situation in Ukraine make it all the more important to bolster the economy now. “We must do all we can to keep Yemen at the top of the agenda,” he said, noting that Brazil will announce a financial contribution at the donor conference and urging the Houthis to maintain engagement with the Resident Coordinator on issues related to the Safer tanker.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said the Council must maintain unified support for the Special Envoy’s efforts, as the conflict has created fractures and altered the balance of power on the ground. A solution must incorporate grievances across the country, and she called on all parties to the conflict to take part in the United Nations consultations, including by allowing the Special Envoy to visit Sana’a, a trip which she called “long overdue”. Parties also must ensure that their delegations include diverse civil society representatives. She expressed sadness that the Houthis have detained another of her delegation’s local staff, who was abducted while shopping at a market. The United States calls “loudly and clearly” for the release of current and former employees, she said, welcoming the adoption of resolution 2624 (2022), which renews the travel ban and asset freeze for another year, and which applies the arms embargo explicitly on the Houthis. It also condemns the illegal transfer of weapons and cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. She said that stopping the illegal flow of weapons from Iran to the Houthis is crucial, and pressed States to implement the arms embargo. Stressing that Yemen remains among the largest humanitarian crises in the world, as seen by the latest food insecurity data, with funding gaps forcing aid organizations to make cuts, she urged donors to change this fact at the virtual 2022 high-level pledging event. The United States is planning a significant contribution, she said, underscoring the need to address the humanitarian crisis now. “Otherwise, the path to peace will narrow.”
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the protracted conflict in Yemen has had a devastating impact on civilians across the country, with children accounting for 70 per cent of the casualties to date. Only an inclusive political process can bring peace back to Yemen, he said, demanding that the Special Envoy be granted access to all parts of the country — including Sana’a — and asking Council members to fully support him in that goal. Welcoming new reports that the Gulf Cooperation Council is inviting all political actors to engage in the peace process, he underlined the need for all parties to fully respect humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians. All parties must also abide by the arms embargo, or risk seeing weapons proliferate further and find their way into Houthi attacks across the region, as was seen recently. The kidnapping of personnel of the United Nations and other international organizations must also end immediately, he said.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), noting the stalemate in Yemen’s political situation, said the recent escalation of violence is a threat to the lives of millions of people, as well as to the region’s stability. Only inclusive dialogue will make it possible to end the civilian population’s suffering, he said, emphasizing that the solution to the conflict is not military in nature. He denounced the blind use of landmines, which kill and mutilate thousands of people every year, as well as the persistence of violence against women and their systematic detention. Basic services across Yemen also continue to collapse, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This situation calls for renewed commitment by the international community,” he said, welcoming the upcoming funding conference and urging donors to participate. However, humanitarian aid to Yemen is not sustainable forever, he said, voicing support for the Special Envoy’s tireless efforts to end the crisis in a challenging environment.
DAI BING (China) said a Yemen-led peace process is the only way forward and he welcomed the Special Envoy’s consultations. Underscoring the need for a nationwide ceasefire, he called on all parties to cease hostilities, cooperate with the Special Envoy, set reasonable expectations and commit to addressing differences through peaceful means. China’s position on sanctions is consistent and he expressed hope that these measures will encourage the parties to return to negotiations at an early date. The Panel of Experts meanwhile must maintain objectivity and provide both accurate and neutral information. He called for the cessation of cross-border attacks and threats against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, voicing support for Government efforts to stabilize the currency and for United Nations efforts to support the short-, medium- and long-term economic framework. Life-saving humanitarian projects must be sustained and he expressed hope the high-level pledging conference will yield success.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) reiterated the appeal for a national ceasefire, especially ahead of Ramadan, and denounced the detention of 13 people who worked for the United States embassy in the country. She likewise condemned the Houthi attack on the Saudi Arabia refinery, stressing that all such violence must cease immediately. Touching on the unravelling humanitarian situation, marked by a loss of supplies resulting from the situation in Ukraine, she said France will continue to increase its contribution to the humanitarian response. It is vital to allow humanitarian workers to circulate without fear of being targeted. She strongly condemned the kidnapping of humanitarian workers and arbitrary arrest of United Nations personnel, stressing that full humanitarian access must be guaranteed and calling for all bureaucratic obstacles to be removed. She welcomed cooperation by Yemen’s parties and the presentation of their vision for a “Yemen of tomorrow”. At the same time, she called on the Houthis to cease their vacillations and bargaining and urged regional actors and the Council itself to support the Special Envoy’s work.
MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya) expressed concern about the intensified hostilities between factions across several front lines, urging all parties to engage constructively with the Special Envoy and commit to cessation of hostilities as the basic minimum to create an environment conducive for negotiations for a sustainable political solution. Noting that around 20,000 people have been displaced since the start of 2022, he said that the restrictions on commercial ships bringing fuel into Hudaydah is further aggravating the humanitarian and economic situation, calling on concerned parties to ensure that necessary infrastructure is protected and availed for humanitarian use. Noting that around a third of Yemen’s wheat imports originate from Europe, he pointed out that the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine is likely to result in food shortage, calling for urgent, innovative approaches to mitigate the issue. He further pointed to the huge funding gaps for Yemen’s humanitarian needs, noting the scaling down and closure of at least 24 out 43 major United Nations humanitarian and development programmes in Yemen. As such, he appealed to the international community to urgently avert a looming famine by surging support, including through the upcoming pledging conference.
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Ireland) noted that some 19 million people across Yemen now face acute food insecurity, with 160,000 living in famine-like conditions — the highest number in years. Yemenis rely upon commercial and humanitarian imports for up to 90 per cent of their food, medicine and fuel, she said, stressing the essential need to ensure timely and unimpeded flow of commodities through the country’s ports. “Only a negotiated political settlement will bring peace to Yemen,” she said, reiterating the importance of full, equal and meaningful participation of women, and extensive engagement with civil society and young people. She went on to condemn in the strongest terms the cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the detention of Yemenis who are currently or formerly employed by the United Nations, or by the United States. She also welcomed the recent progress made on the United Nations-coordinated proposal to address the threat posed by the Safer oil tanker, noting that a memorandum of understanding signed on 5 March was a positive first step.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), noting with regret the continued escalation in the security situation in Yemen, urged all parties to strictly abide by international humanitarian law. The confrontation is only further strengthening the positions of terrorist groups, he warned, noting that there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Stressing that the principle of inclusivity must be a central reference point in all efforts to resolve it, he urged the Special Envoy to step up his mediation activities and noted the recent launch in Jordan of consultations with the representatives of Yemeni political forces, expressing his hope that it will help pave the path to a peaceful political solution. The Russian Federation will continue to encourage Ansar Allah to take a constructive approach, he said, welcoming recent agreement between that group and the United Nations on the Safer oil tanker. Turning to the dire humanitarian situation, he expressed hope that the upcoming pledging conference will yield positive results and emphasized that all humanitarian assistance must be impartial in nature.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) welcomed the Special Envoy’s recent inclusive consultations and expressed his hope that he will be able to meet shortly with the Houthis. Calling once again for a nationwide ceasefire, he voiced concern that about 40 per cent of Yemen’s imported wheat comes from Ukraine and the Russian Federation and will likely be impacted by the crisis unfolding there. He condemned the targeting of medical and humanitarian personnel — which constitute serious breaches of international law — as well as of United Nations and other international personnel. He went on to voice regret over the high cost of the conflict for Yemen’s women and girls, many of whom have been cut off from access to sexual and reproductive care, suffer gender-based violence, are forced into early marriages and have suffered harassment and detention for activist activities.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, expressed support for the United Nations mediation efforts, noting that the Houthis have instead used them to expand their military presence. Continuing to impose control over millions of people by force, they have repeatedly demonstrated that they do not want the war to end, especially as their leaders in Sana’a refuse to engage with the United Nations. Given such intransigence, he welcomed the adoption of resolution 2624 (2022) and called on all States to follow the Council’s framework on this matter. “The end goal is not imposing sanctions, but rather, it is to end the crisis through a political solution,” he explained. This requires the international community to use all means available to pressure Houthis to return to the table and seriously engage in negotiations. Noting that the Saudi initiative provides a solid foundation for resolving the crisis, he called for renewed diplomacy and genuine political will by the Houthis, as well as for the meaningful participation of women in the political process.
He went on to condemn the Houthi’s recent drone attack on a refinery in Riyadh, the repeated attacks on Abha Airport and the missile launched towards the Red Sea, calling on States to strictly implement their obligations under resolutions 2624 (2022) and 2216 (2015), notably by redoubling efforts to staunch the flow of weapons to the Houthis by land and sea routes. He affirmed that the continued imposition of sanctions on the Houthis is necessary “until they realize that there is no alternative to a political solution that is chosen by the Yemeni people”. The exacerbation of these conditions is related to the Houthis military escalation, their obstruction of humanitarian aid shipments and confiscation of food supplies. On the Safer tanker issue, he said that for the latest agreement to succeed, all pressure must be brought to bear on the Houthis to honour their commitments and to stop their procrastination tactics. Any solution must consider their pattern of making insincere promises as a negotiation tactic, while ignoring warnings of an imminent environmental disaster.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) said the suffering of the Yemeni people is now in its eighth year, due to the Houthis’ continued military escalation and their refusal to engage in any United Nations-led peace efforts. Asking all partners to make and keep generous commitments to his country at the 16 March humanitarian funding conference, he stressed that Yemen must remain at the heart of the international community’s agenda. He praised the Council’s recently adopted resolution that describes the Houthis, for the first time, as a “terrorist organization” in light of the crimes it continues to commit against the Yemeni people. Emphasizing that the group poses a threat to the entire region, he said the Government is doing everything possible to relaunch development projects and ensure the restoration of the economy.
Voicing his expectation that the Government’s reforms will have a deep-rooted impact — stabilizing the national currency, addressing inflation and ultimately tackling the humanitarian crisis — he said today, Yemen still needs substantial international support as the war is estimated to have set its development back more than two decades. The Government stands committed to ensuring the success of the Special Envoy’s mission, while the Houthi militias — supported by Iran — continue to reject all efforts to achieve peace. Against that backdrop, he called for an urgent end to the bloodshed, inviting the Council to put more pressure on the Houthis, as well as the Iranian regime, to stop the military escalation and ultimately bring an end to the conflict.