Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council VTC meeting on Yemen, November 11

11.11.2020 - Speech

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Our discussion today basically is a repeat performance. The Joint Declaration is still not adopted. We continue to see periodic spikes in violence, shelling and bombing. So we have to be realistic and say that progress is practically nonexistent. This is extremely frustrating. Nevertheless, we would encourage Martin Griffiths [SESG for Yemen] to continue his work. I admire his persistence. Please continue to build on the so-called airlift of hope on the ICRC-facilitated prisoner exchange.

I don't have much to add to what Mark Lowcock and David Beasley [Executive Director WFP] said with regard to the humanitarian situation. The population is being starved and the horrors inflicted by famine abound. We cannot find the right words to react to that.

David Beasley talked about the countdown to a devastating famine. Thank you for your frank portrayal of the situation. Let me also take this occasion to personally congratulate you and the World Food Programme for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It is very well deserved. Germany is proud to be the second largest donor to the World Food Programme. Congratulations on getting the biometric data in Sana'a. We hope that you can continue your work based on the data.

I find it really unacceptable to hear about the bureaucratic hurdles. What the Houthis have done in the past in terms of blackmailing donors and humanitarian organizations is totally unacceptable. But it was also mentioned with regard to the Government and the STC [Southern Transitional Council]  that there are bureaucratic hurdles. I would ask the Ambassador of Yemen to specifically address the criticism being launched against the government with regard to the bureaucratic hurdles to humanitarian aid.

On humanitarian funding, Germany has fulfilled our commitments and we are the third largest donor for Yemen. We have pledged and disbursed 148 million dollars million in addition to a 100 million dollars to World Food Programme and UNOPS. Altogether, our humanitarian assistance, stabilization efforts and development cooperation adds up to 370 million dollars. There are others that have not complied with their commitments, particularly those in the region. I don't think it is acceptable that a country like the United Arab Emirates, which is also involved in the military conflict, has not committed to humanitarian aid this year. I would also ask our US colleague Kelly [Craft, US Permanent Representative] with excellent relations to the UAE to please push them to commit to the same level as they did last year.

Let me turn to Omer Badhokon [Founder and Executive Director, Solutions for Sustainable Society], who said a dignified life is not possible in Yemen. I find it wonderful that you have these ambitions for the country with regard to a circular green economy, biogas, conservation of wildlife and timber. This is what we should be talking about, but instead we have to talk about the dire humanitarian situation. You said that young people have to play a role, and I would add the need to have the participation of women. Martin Griffith, thank you for being steadfast on this. In your negotiations on the Joint Declaration, women must be included.

During last month's briefing, Mark Lowcock said that the Yemeni children were a testament of hope, citing the moving example of a school in Taiz where the children keep going to school without any learning material. Teachers continue to teach without having been paid for months or even years. This is an example of hope. Just last week, we read about three children being severely injured by shelling, including a six year old girl. The shelling happened precisely in Taiz. Maybe the injured children were pupils of the school you mentioned, maybe not.  But these incidents show once more how horrifying the fighting and the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law are and what consequences they have. They literally killed the last remaining testament of hope for the country. The fighting and especially the killing of civilians have to stop!

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