Check Against Delivery
Thanks to Martin and Ramesh for their comprehensive briefings and we very much agree with the briefers’ plea for all parties to stop the fighting and to engage in de-escalation immediately. This is the most important thing that needs to be done.
We are extremely worried that fighting in the North continues and that military gains could lead to a further advance of frontlines and fuel a cycle of ever growing violence and escalation. An attack on Marib would be alarming news. We urge all relevant actors, in particular on the Houthi side, to refrain from seeking territorial gains by force, thereby risking the life of thousands of civilians and threatening the security of the 2 million IDPs which have found refuge in Marib.
There is a significant risk that the fighting and violence in the North impacts the volatile military situation in other parts of Yemen. The recent air strike on Al Salif in the north of Hodeidah is a stark reminder that the fragile stability in Hodeidah and beyond needs to be preserved.
We also agree with Martin and Ramesh that all parties must strictly adhere to international humanitarian and human rights law and protect civilians as well as civilian infrastructure. Women and children are among the ones suffering most from the dire military and humanitarian situation. All actors should alleviate their suffering and put needs of vulnerable populations first.
Martin has talked about his efforts in the past weeks to call for de-escalation and we couldn’t agree more with this. We call on all actors to break the cycle of violence and engage constructively and without delay in efforts to de-escalate the situation. We welcome and support the efforts of the Special Envoy that aim at a de-escalation mechanism. His visit to Marib, which he talked about today, last weekend sent a clear and important signal in that regard, which has our strong support.
For sustainable and lasting de-escalation a minimum degree of confidence is indispensable. We therefore urge all sides to further engage in confidence-building measures and demonstrate good will. We need to see an implementation of the agreed prisoner exchange, we need to see a continuation of mercy flights, access to the SAFER oil tanker, and unrestricted and full cooperation with UNMHA. On all these fronts, much more needs to be done.
Confidence-building measures as well as informal meetings and exchanges of representatives of all sides, as facilitated by the Envoy at the end of last month in Amman, are crucial for the resumption of formal political talks. We particularly welcome the high level of women participation at this meeting. This should be the guideline for all following talks.
Political leaders and their visions for a future Yemen must be judged on their ability to provide a safe, prosperous and healthy environment for all Yemeni people, taking into account the diverse interests and groups in the country. There is no alternative to an inclusive political process.
Slow progress of KSA-Houthi direct talks and lack of progress in the implementation of the Riyadh agreement underline the urgency of a swift restart of the political process under UN auspices. The Security Council has a responsibility to call on the involved parties to engage.
Before I conclude, a word on the humanitarian situation.
Given ongoing and escalating fighting in the North, we witness further degradation of the already catastrophic humanitarian situation. Against this backdrop, it is even more incomprehensible that the political leadership in Sana’a is treating humanitarian workers and aid organizations in a way that puts into question the whole humanitarian operation in the North.
We have tolerated these increasing restrictions for far too long. As a result, 8 million people in need are not reached. This is unacceptable. We must not wait any longer to send clear and hard messages to the de-facto authorities in Sana’a. In that regard, we appreciate UN/OCHA’s lead. Without respect for the humanitarian principles and the safety of humanitarian staff, life-saving assistance can and will not get in.
We therefore once more call upon the responsibility of all parties, but especially the Houthis, to cease any harassment of humanitarian staff, facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered access, lift bureaucratic restrictions, and enable project agreements without further delays.