Parties in Yemen Must Seize Opening Presented by Regional, International Momentum to Move towards More Peaceful Future, Special Envoy Tells Security Council
While the overall security situation in Yemen remains stable amidst improved regional relations, the country urgently needs sustained international support to counter a dire humanitarian and economic scenario that has left 17 million people counting on aid agencies to get through 2023, briefers told the Security Council today.
Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, said elements of the truce that became effective in April 2022 are being carried out as intense diplomatic efforts go on at various levels to end the conflict. Noting that a sustainable political settlement requires a more comprehensive approach, he told Council members he is working with Yemeni parties, as well as regional and international stakeholders.
He pointed to the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic ties as an example of the dialogue and good-neighbourly relations that are important for the region and for Yemen. “The parties must seize the opportunity presented by this regional and international momentum to take decisive steps towards a more peaceful future,” he said. “This requires patience and a long-term perspective. And this requires courage and leadership. Much has been achieved over the past year and now it is time to the next step.”
Recognizing the progress gained with the maintenance of the truce after its expiration, Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, told delegates that another improvement has been a 2 million drop in the number of people going hungry in Yemen. Yet, humanitarian agencies too often lack the resources needed to deliver help. Access and security remain major challenges, funding is in short supply and economic problems are pushing even more people into destitution. In 2022, aid agencies assisted nearly 11 million people every month. Recalling the Secretary-General’s participation in a recent joint pledging event for Yemen with the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, she said more than 30 donors promised $1.16 billion for humanitarian action. Yet, that is not nearly enough for aid operations to last through the end of 2023. She also expressed concern over the need for more support to strengthen Yemen’s economy. Economic decline is among the top drivers of humanitarian needs, and aid agencies want to do much more to help Yemenis move beyond the immediate crisis.
While recognizing the Yemen’s sustained political stability, Council delegates emphasized the need to keep supporting the country’s humanitarian needs and economic recovery efforts. The representative of the United States said much more assistance is needed in Yemen to bridge the current $3.1 billion funding shortfall. He also expressed concerned over the Houthis blocking the flow of goods from the south of the country, actions that compound the humanitarian and economic consequences of the Houthis attacks.
The representative of Ghana, also speaking on behalf of Gabon and Mozambique, urged the international community to continue its help as two thirds of Yemen’s population, or about 21.6 million people, still depend on outside aid. More than 2 million Yemeni children suffer from acute malnutrition. Despite soaring levels of hunger and poverty, funding shortages in recent years have forced the United Nations to reduce its programmes, including emergency food assistance. Yet, the pledges of $1.2 billion made during the pledging event in February fall far below the target of $4.3 billion. It is just 28 per cent of what the United Nations estimated is required to prevent more deterioration of the dire humanitarian situation.
China’s delegate echoed that concern and said that, just when the Yemeni people urgently need health care and infrastructure, many United Nations assistance programmes are facing the risk of shutdown due to insufficient funding. He urged the international community to scale up its humanitarian and development assistance to guarantee adequate funding for those operations. Spotlighting the recent re-establishment of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he voiced his hope that this development could create conducive conditions for the improvement of Yemen’s situation.
Switzerland’s delegate said Yemen’s positive momentum must shift to an inclusive political settlement, under United Nations auspices, with the participation of all society members. She called for the immediate lifting of unacceptable restrictions on humanitarian actors and urged authorities and the international community to make mine action a priority and respect international humanitarian law and relevant human rights provisions. “The year 2023 must be the year of change — the truce must be restored and extended to a permanent ceasefire,” she said, emphasizing that “time is running out and the civilian population can wait no longer”.
The representative of Yemen said that, for peace to be achieved, negotiating partners that believe in equal rights and reject violence are required. If the Houthis do not, any agreement reached will only serve as a “band-aid” and militias will continue to sow chaos. Describing the Government’s good-faith efforts to reach the 2022 truce, he said the Houthis nevertheless insisted on refusing to open roads in Ta’iz and have recently blocked oil imports, depriving the Yemeni people of critical goods and resources. Noting several recent Government reforms in the financial and economic sectors, he said that there is now a real chance that humanitarian assistance can help address the Yemeni peoples’ needs. He advocated for the channelling of funds through the Central Bank of Yemen.
The representative of Albania, speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to its resolution 2140 (2014), provided an update of activities since 15 February 2022, which included four informal consultations. She reported that the Houthis were listed as an entity subject to the targeted arms embargo through Council resolution 2624 (2022).
The representative of Mozambique, Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity, thanked delegations for their expressions of solidarity and support in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddie. “This tragedy once again underscores the urgency to address, as a matter of priority, the detrimental impacts of natural disasters and their causes,” he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, United Kingdom, Malta, Russian Federation, Ecuador, Japan and France.
The meeting began at 10:36 a.m. and ended at 12:28 p.m.
HANS GRUNDBERG, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, noting that the Security Council briefing takes place as Muslims around the world look forward to Ramadan, said the overall military situation in Yemen remains relatively stable since the truce that became effective on 2 April 2022. Yet, he was concerned by the uptick in the number and intensity of clashes in several front-line areas, particularly in Ma’rib and Ta’iz, and called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint during this critical time, including by refraining from escalatory public rhetoric.
He said elements of the truce continue to be implemented, and with the support of Jordan, commercial flights continue to operate three times a week between Sana’a and Amman. Fuel ships continue to enter Hudaydah ports, along with other commodities. Yet, these gains are also fragile and daily life remains a struggle for most Yemenis. “This underscores what I have stated almost one year ago: The truce can only be a steppingstone. We urgently need to build on what was achieved by the truce and work toward a nationwide ceasefire and an inclusive political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen,” he said.
Intense diplomatic efforts continue at different levels to end the conflict and a ceasefire and a sustainable political settlement can only be achieved through a more comprehensive approach, he said, adding that he is engaging with the Yemeni parties, as well as regional and international stakeholders. The parties, as well as regional States, are unequivocal that any understanding reached as part of the ongoing discussions must be translated into a Yemeni-Yemeni agreement under United Nations auspices. A resumption of a Yemeni-Yemeni political process is a central element and remains at the core of his mandate. A political process that addresses the concerns and aspirations of Yemen’s people must be Yemeni-owned and include the voices of Yemeni stakeholders, including youth, civil society and women. Last week’s observance of International Women’s Day shows the role that women play in furthering peace and the risks and restrictions they face. “Women are central to the social fabric of Yemen and their meaningful participation is essential for moving Yemen forward,” he added.
He then turned to the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Detainees’ Exchange Agreement, which is co-chaired by his Office and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Deliberations are still ongoing between the parties and he hoped they can implement their obligations under the Stockholm Agreement to release all conflict-related detainees. Noting the recent agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic ties, he said this dialogue and good-neighbourly relations are important for the region and for Yemen. “The parties must seize the opportunity presented by this regional and international momentum to take decisive steps towards a more peaceful future,” he said. “This requires patience and a long-term perspective. And this requires courage and leadership. Much has been achieved over the past year and now it is time to the next step.”
JOYCE MSUYA, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the last year has brought a number of improvements to Yemen. The truce, and the fact that many of its key provisions have been maintained even months after the truce itself expired, were major steps forward. Another improvement has been a decline in the number of people going hungry in Yemen, which has fallen by almost 2 million people. The rate of people suffering from the worst level of hunger — known as Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 5, or IPC5 — has dropped to zero, thanks largely to the tireless efforts of humanitarian workers, the generous support of donors and to the truce itself.
There has also been progress on the Safer oil tanker, she said, recalling that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently announced the purchase of a replacement vessel that should arrive in the port city of Hudaydah in May. Such a pace means the offloading operation could finish by September, if donors quickly provide the remaining $34 million needed. While emphasizing those achievements, however, she stressed: “We must not rejoice too much.” Yemen remains a staggering emergency, with more than 17 million people counting on aid agencies for assistance and protection in 2023.
Against that backdrop, she said humanitarian agencies too often lack the resources they need to provide the help needed in Yemen. Access and security remain major challenges, funding is in short supply and economic problems are pushing even more people into destitution. She noted that humanitarian personnel are now increasingly present in parts of the country that, in the past, were extremely hard to reach due to fighting, constraints by the authorities and internal United Nations security rules. In recent weeks, agencies have reached former front-line areas in Hudaydah, remote parts of Hajjah hosting numerous displaced people and other hard-to-access locations. Houthi authorities have also recently accelerated approvals of aid projects in the areas they control, which is welcome.
“But, despite these rays of light, the overall picture on access and security remains very dark,” she said. In Houthi-controlled areas, Yemeni female aid workers are still unable to travel without male guardians — both within and out of the country, which is causing serious disruptions in the ability of agencies to assist women and girls safely and reliably. Calling on the Houthis to lift all such movement restrictions and to help identify an acceptable way forward on that issue, she added that Houthi attempts to interfere with aid operations remain rife. Those include efforts to force agencies to select certain contractors for third-party monitoring and assessments. Moreover, two United Nations staff remain detained in Sana’a following their arrest by Houthi authorities in November 2021, she said, asking for their immediate release.
She went on to cite a range of other challenges, including a growing trend of vaccine scepticism — and a corresponding rising rate of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and polio — as well as persistent insecurity in some areas. In 2022, aid agencies assisted nearly 11 million people every month. “Doing so is much harder than it should be,” she stressed, noting that it often requires many rounds of discussions, leading to numerous delays. But, it was, and remains, possible, if enough resources exist. Recalling the Secretary-General’s participation in a recent joint pledging event for Yemen with the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, she said more than 30 donors promised $1.16 billion for humanitarian action. But that will not be nearly enough to get the aid operation through the end of 2023.
“We know donor funds are tight, and other crises are competing for their support,” she said, urgently advocating for the immediate disbursement of all pledges. “The promises made at the Yemen pledging event need to be quickly honoured”, as some essential humanitarian programmes are already closing. The United Nations will continue to advocate for the full funding of its response plan, where $4.3 billion is needed to help 17 million people. But she pledged that it will also continue to work closely with donors and other stakeholders on the access problems that so many donors warned about at the funding event.
Turning briefly to another related challenge, she expressed deep concern over the need for more support to strengthen Yemen’s economy. Economic decline is among the top drivers of humanitarian needs, and aid agencies want to do much more to help Yemenis move beyond the immediate crisis. One priority is to clean up the landmines and other explosives that are killing and maiming so many, as well as choking off economic life. Calling for more resources and specialized partners on that front, she said moving forward also requires ensuring that aid agencies face fewer obstacles and are able to deliver principled assistance. Meanwhile, the United Nations is working on a revised economic framework that will help address broader economic drivers of humanitarian needs in Yemen, she said, stressing: “If we miss this opportunity, it will become much harder to ever transition towards a smaller aid operation without putting millions of lives at risk.”
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania), speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to its resolution 2140 (2014), provided an update of activities since 15 February 2022, which included four informal consultations. On 10 June 2022, the Committee heard a presentation by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. On 9 September 2022, it heard a presentation by the Panel of Experts on its midterm update which was submitted on 28 July 2022 and contained eight recommendations, upon which the Committee acted on one.
She also said that the Committee met jointly in information consultations with the Security Council committee pursuant to its resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia on 29 November 2022 to discuss issues related to the smuggle of weapons between Yemen and that country. On 20 February 2023, the Committee heard a presentation by the Panel on its final report which was submitted on 30 December 2022 and transmitted to the Council on 21 February 2023 (document S/2023/130). The Committee discussed the recommendations addressed to it and is currently considering follow-up actions, she noted.
She then reported that the Houthis were listed as an entity subject to the targeted arms embargo through Council resolution 2624 (2022). Further, the Committee approved the inclusion of two individuals on its sanction list on 26 September 2022 and one additional individual on 4 October 2022. The Committee did not receive any delisting request during the reporting period. On 1 November 2022, the Committee received a notification of an exemption to the assets freeze under paragraph 20(a)a of Council resolution 2140 (2014) and took no negative decision on this notification. The Committee also continued to receive vessel inspection reports from the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said the international community should focus on intensifying efforts to achieve a permanent agreement that halts hostilities and relaunch comprehensive political negotiations between the Yemeni parties. The Houthis must heed the call for peace and genuinely respond to proposals aimed at ending the conflict. The ongoing violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses perpetrated by the Houthis against civilians and civilian infrastructure must end. His delegation strongly condemned these violations, which extend from attacks on Yemeni ports to the use of blockades, shelling, mines, arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances. Violations against women and children are particularly concerning. His delegation appreciates all efforts to enforce the arms embargo imposed on the Houthis and called for strict compliance with it. Emphasizing the importance of sustained support for humanitarian needs and economic recovery efforts, he welcomed the convening of the donors’ conference last month in Geneva. In 2023, the United Arab Emirates will implement development, rehabilitation and humanitarian projects valued at $325 million in Yemen. These projects are in the health-care, renewable energy and agricultural sectors. These projects include the construction of the Hassan Dam in Abyan Governorate, which will help about 13,000 farmers, and a renewable energy project in Aden that will generate 120 megawatts of energy. The United Arab Emirates also deposited $300 million in the Central Bank of Yemen in 2022 to support the stability of the Yemeni riyal.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil), outlining the years of untold suffering in Yemen, said humanitarian action remains vital to save lives. Yemen must have affordable access to food and the resources needed to rebuild, in line with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recent white paper on that topic. Stressing that food security in particular deserves special attention, as laid out in a recent Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Food Programme (WFP) “Hunger Hotspots” report, he said sanctions and unilateral measures that might hinder access to agricultural goods must be avoided and the United Nations humanitarian framework in Yemen must afford priority to food access. Meanwhile, ongoing dialogue among the parties — through direct negotiations — is key to building trust and bridging all outstanding differences. He also called for continued restraint from any escalatory actions, especially against civilian targets. Welcoming recent promising steps on the Safer oil tanker operation, which are a testament to collective action, he voiced his hope that all necessary measures will soon be implemented.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), also speaking on behalf of Gabon and Mozambique, said he welcomed the Special Envoy’s efforts to renew and expand the truce, particularly efforts to create local solutions to local problems. He encouraged all parties, especially the Houthis, to engage constructively with the Government in good faith. The start of the seventh meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Detainees’ Exchange Agreement, held last week in Geneva, is an important step to build confidence. He hoped it would lead to an agreement on the release of all detainees, in fulfilment of their obligation under the Stockholm Agreement. Turning to the country’s humanitarian needs, he urged the international community to continue its help. Two thirds of Yemen’s population, or about 21.6 million people, still depend on outside aid, and more than 2 million Yemeni children suffer from acute malnutrition. Despite the soaring levels of hunger and poverty, funding shortages in recent years have forced the United Nations to reduce its programmes, including emergency food assistance. Yet, the pledges of $1.2 billion, made during the pledging event in February, fall far below the target of $4.3 billion and is just 28 per cent of what the United Nations estimated is required to prevent more deterioration of the dire humanitarian situation.
He said the placement of administrative and bureaucratic impediments on the operations of humanitarian agencies, including restrictions on movements of female staff, affect delivery of critical humanitarian assistance to segments of the Yemeni society. His group of countries is particularly concerned about the mahram obligation imposed on female humanitarian staff, which requires them to be accompanied by male guardians in certain areas. Such restrictions hinder access to aid, he said, adding the parties are obliged under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to grant unimpeded access to aid workers. Supporting Yemen’s weak economy should remain a key part of the international community’s efforts to improve the country’s humanitarian situation. Improvement in the country’s socioeconomic conditions will help reduce dependence on humanitarian aid. Turning to the Safer oil vessel, his group welcomed the acquisition of a crude carrier by the United Nations, as an initial step towards transferring the oil from the decaying vessel. He urged all parties to let the salvage operation move ahead and noted that about $34 million is still needed for the operation’s emergency phase to begin. The potential environmental and humanitarian damage of a spill, as well as subsequent clean-up costs of $20 billion, far outweigh the funding gap.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) urged the Houthis to engage directly with the Government and the United Nations as an inclusive political settlement is the only way to bring stability. For its part, the international community must also act to mitigate the suffering of Yemenis. Houthi authorities should reconsider mahram requirements in the north that are excluding women from assistance and are driving up the cost of living, she said before welcoming the generous financial contributions of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to address the serious economic situation of the Yemeni people. Houthis must also refrain from all escalatory action, especially since terrorist attacks and threats have blocked Government oil exports and contributed to increased living costs. Regarding the destabilizing effect of arms smuggling on Yemen and the region, she noted that her country’s navy — along with its partners in the United States and France — continue to interdict Iranian arms shipments. All those involved must stop driving regional instability, she stressed. On the Safer salvage operation, she asked the Organization to share a detailed budget on its procurement of a replacement vessel and the international community to fill the $34 million funding gap.
FRANCESCA GATT (Malta) said the current period of calm in Yemen provides a crucial opportunity for the parties to advance dialogue towards a sustainable peace. Underlining the importance of national ownership over that process, which must also be fully inclusive of women and other groups, she added that independent and impartial human rights monitoring in Yemen is crucial to document serious violations. Welcoming recent political strides, she encouraged the parties to engage constructively in all discussions, while voicing deep concern over reported impediments to humanitarian access across Yemen and calling for efforts to limit and overcome bureaucratic obstacles. She also underlined the need for adequate and predictable funding, citing Malta’s additional contribution at the recent high-level pledging event for Yemen. In addition, she expressed concern over the imposition of mahram requirements for women aid workers in Houthi-controlled areas, which is hindering the work of humanitarian organizations, and about the continued prevalence of landmines in some areas.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said the situation on the ground is relatively stable and there has been no backsliding to full-scale hostilities despite the absence of an official truce. He hoped the calm will continue and key Yemeni players will continue to work constructively. Restraint is important and a broad dialogue on all political issues is necessary. The use of United Nations mediation is necessary to harmonize external approaches and consolidate international efforts. A comprehensive plan under the aegis of the United Nations needs flexibility and compromise. A lasting and full-scale solution that helps Yemeni’s neighbours is needed. He urged Yemeni officials to work constructively, and to relaunch talks with direct intra-Yemeni dialogue that involves all the conflict’s parties, including the Houthis. Sanctions are a powerful Council instrument and the goal is to restore peace and security, not punish anyone. Sanctions must be used in a targeted manner. The work of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014) needs to be carried out in a neutral manner. The work of the Panel of Experts should also be done in line with their mandate. The country’s difficult socioeconomic situation persists and his delegation advocates the lifting of restrictions on delivery of food, medications and all essential goods to all areas.
GENG SHUANG (China) called on parties to the conflict to remain calm, exercise restraint and refrain from any action that may undermine mutual trust and trigger tensions. Just when the Yemeni people are in urgent need of health care and infrastructure, many United Nations assistance programmes are facing the risk of shutdown due to insufficient funding, he noted, urging the international community to scale up their humanitarian and development assistance to guarantee adequate funding for those operations. For their part, concerned parties must lift unnecessary restrictions on the Organization’s humanitarian operations. He then underlined the Safer tanker’s risk on Yemen’s economic, humanitarian, security and environment sectors to stress that they must be eliminated immediately. As dialogue and negotiations are the only realistic way to resolve the Yemeni issue, all parties must uphold the overarching goal of a political settlement, put the interests of the Yemeni people first, fully demonstrate their political will and move proactively and positively in that direction. In that regard, the international community must create a favourable atmosphere and regional countries with influence should contribute constructively. Spotlighting the recent re-establishment of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, he voiced his hope that this uplifting news could create conducive conditions for the improvement of Yemen’s situation.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) said much more assistance is needed in Yemen, for which efforts are needed to bridge the current $3.1 billion funding shortfall. The United States announced a contribution of $440 million to the United Nations humanitarian response, with more to come in 2023, bringing its total contribution to more than $5.4 billion since the conflict started. Expressing concern that cuts will be needed if the international donor community does not further step up its support, he went on to voice concern over reports that the Houthis are blocking the flow of goods from the south of the country. Such actions further compound the humanitarian and economic consequences of the Houthis attacks, he said, also expressing concern over diminishing humanitarian access — which is only exacerbated by new mahram requirements. Calling on the Houthis to release detained United Nations staff members “who have done nothing wrong”, he urged a peaceful, Yemeni-Yemeni negotiated peace process, and voiced dismay that weapons continue to flow from Iran to the Houthis, in direct violation of the Council’s targeted arms embargo.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador), spotlighting the humanitarian situation of the Yemeni people, deplored practices hindering safe access to humanitarian assistance such as bureaucratic obstacles and the obligation for female personnel to travel in the company of male guardians. On the recent and encouraging political signals, he urged parties to ensure that negotiations include the full, equal and substantive participation of all stakeholders, especially women, in line with Council resolutions 2624 (2022) and 2643 (2022). Teams on the ground must evaluate best available options to facilitate the implementation of Yemen’s national action plan on women, peace and security. They should also prioritize in negotiations the immediate implementation of an action plan to clear mines and improvised explosive devices which are the primary cause of civilian maiming. There is no better to time to establish effective accountability and access to justice mechanisms, he pointed out while also urging the Houthis to release political prisoners, humanitarian personnel and United Nations staff who have been arbitrarily deprived of their freedom. He then reiterated his concern regarding the Safer tanker’s imminent threat to both the region and planet. All efforts to remedy this situation must be explored, he stressed.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), calling on the Council to respond to Yemen’s legitimate aspirations without delay, urged parties to engage resolutely to silence the weapons for good, exercise restraint and show full readiness for an intra-Yemeni national dialogue. The positive momentum the world is witnessing must be reflected in the achievement of an inclusive political settlement under the auspices of the United Nations with the participation of society as a whole, she underscored. The momentum of donors’ solidarity must continue and underfunded activities — such as water, sanitation and the protection of civilians — require a more sustainable and systemic approach that goes beyond short-term aid. Similarly, the Safer tanker rescue plan requires the continued attention of the entire international community. Calling for the immediate lifting of unacceptable and continued restrictions on humanitarian actors, she urged authorities and the international community to make mine action a priority and to respect international humanitarian law and relevant human rights provisions. “The year 2023 must be the year of change — the truce must be restored and extended to a permanent ceasefire,” she said, emphasizing that “time is running out and the civilian population can wait no longer”.
Ms. DAUTLLARI (Albania), speaking in her national capacity, said her delegation is encouraged by recent developments in and around Yemen, and that the core benefits of the truce brokered in 2022 are holding. She supported all efforts to move the parties closer to a political solution, adding that the Yemeni people’s aspirations should be at the core of a just and lasting political settlement. It should be a Yemen-owned and Yemeni-led process, facilitated by the United Nations. Continued international support is crucial, and the outcomes of the high-level pledging event on 27 February show the international community’s support of the Yemeni people. Yet, the demands of the Houthis do not allow for constructive engagement with the Special Envoy for Yemen and regional actors to find a political solution. Her delegation remains concerned by the Houthis’ continuous violations of resolution 2216 (2015) as they smuggle weapons and ammunition, which are then used to attack civilian infrastructure. She condemned these acts and called for full accountability of violations of humanitarian law. In addition, international and local aid workers on the ground must be fully protected from all impediments and security challenges.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan), stressing that a durable peace will require not only a mere extension of the truce, but also Yemeni ownership of long-term national reconstruction, voiced her hope that the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be a positive step towards resolving the Yemeni issue. However, she said she is deeply concerned about the unchanged pattern of arms supplies to the Houthis as reported by the Panel of Experts. Urging Member States to implement the arms embargo and support peace efforts in Yemen, she voiced her further concern over the various disruptive actions taken by the Houthis inside that country to undermine the Government’s economic capability. Parties concerned must prevent any behaviours that lead to such instability. As the peace process and national reconstruction should go hand in hand with economic development, she announced the launch of a project in March to strengthen the functions of the Port of Aden, with development assistance from her Government. The importance of continuing to support people in need and deliver life-saving livelihood programmes cannot be overstated, she stressed, calling on parties to improve access and secure the safety of aid workers in accordance with international humanitarian law.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), calling on parties to act responsibility in order to reach a political agreement with the Government, voiced her hope that other mechanisms for dialogue and de-escalation can be reactivated under the auspices of the United Nations. She also expressed her hope that the recent restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran can advance ongoing negotiations between Yemeni parties while strengthening regional security and stability. Against this backdrop, Iran must cease its destabilizing activities, she said. The current and encouraging dynamic, she continued, must lead to a comprehensive and inclusive political solution that considers the interests and concerns of all. To that end, Yemeni women must be involved in defining the future of their country and the Houthis must engage in negotiations in good faith. While the Council must not forget the Yemeni people, aid cannot benefit them without the guarantee of proper and safe working conditions for humanitarian personnel, she pointed out, reiterating her call for the preservation of humanitarian space. The Houthis must stop their restrictions on United Nations and humanitarian personnel and must immediately and unconditionally release detained personnel. She also called for the speedy implementation of the Organization’s plan on the Safer tanker.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) reiterated his country’s support for the Special Envoy, as well as for regional and international efforts to relaunch the 2022 truce and the United Nations-facilitated peace process. However, for peace to be achieved, negotiating partners that believe in equal rights and reject violence are required. If the Houthis do not, any agreement reached will only serve as a “band-aid”, and militias will continue to sow chaos. Describing his Government’s good faith efforts to reach the 2022 truce, its strict adherence to its terms and the many compromises it made to extend it, he said the Houthis nevertheless insisted on refusing to open roads in Ta’iz, and have recently blocked oil imports, providing the Yemeni people of critical goods and resources. Houthi militias continue to instil terrorist ideologies into children and recruit them into war, force people to flee from their homes and subject civilians to torture and forced disappearance.
Thousands of innocent people are also killed every day by Houthi landmines, he continued, noting that such risks are borne disproportionately by women and children. Meanwhile, gains made by Yemeni women are being eroded as the Houthis deprive them of education, impose gender-based movement restrictions, employ sexual violence, abduct women and imprison them in secret jails. Noting several recent Government reforms in the financial and economic sectors, he said that, today, there is a real chance that humanitarian assistance can help address the Yemeni peoples’ needs and advocated for the channelling of funds through the Central Bank of Yemen. He went on to reject the continued arms smuggling operation from Iran to the Houthis and called on the Council to address those violations, while expressing hope that the agreement recently reached between Iran and Saudi Arabia will usher in a new period of more peaceful behaviour.