8464th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East; Yemen

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19-Feb-2019 01:58:37
Progress on recent accords in quest for peace, gives Yemen opportunity to move away from ‘logic of war’, Security Council hears at 8464th meeting.

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Permanent Representative Urges Pressure to Ensure Opposing Houthi Militia Group Implements Stockholm Agreement

Significant progress in implementing recent agreements in Yemen represents an opportunity for that country to move away from the “logic of war” towards one of peace, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today.

“There is momentum in Yemen,” emphasized Martin Griffiths, the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for that country, during his briefing to the 15‑member Council. Speaking via video-teleconference from Amman, Jordan, he reported on the progress made on implementation of the Stockholm Agreement reached in December 2018, including the first phase of the Hodeidah redeployment plan, calling upon the Yemeni authorities and the opposing Houthi militia group to act without further delay. He welcomed the role of Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard — the newly appointed Head of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA) — in leading the negotiations.

Describing phase one of the Hodeidah redeployment plan as a sign that the parties are committed to maintaining the momentum, he said it also demonstrates their will to turn words into tangible progress on the ground while reinforcing trust and showing political will. “We need to agree on small things now, not big things later,” he declared, emphasizing: “We have an overriding responsibility to build on the momentum created in Stockholm towards resolving the conflict, not least because the alternative is unimaginable.” He added that the third High‑level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, to be held in Geneva on 26 February, will estimate the financing needs of humanitarian programmes. “This reminds us that the cost of the war, if our collective efforts fail, will rise steeply at the tragic expense of the people in Yemen.”

Delivering a second briefing, Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, described next week’s Geneva conference as an important opportunity for the international community to make clear its commitment to saving lives in Yemen amid continuing efforts towards a political solution. The price tag is steep, he cautioned, noting that all the life-saving and protection programmes set out in the 2019 United Nations‑coordinated response plan, released today, will cost more than $4 billion to deliver.

Although humanitarian agencies are hoping to help 15 million Yemenis in 2019, the reality on the ground is grim, he continued, citing the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Yemen released last week by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Reporting “considerably worse” conditions than in 2018, he said that about 24 million people, or approximately 80 per cent of the population, are now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, with some 20 million people — half of them a step away from famine — requiring help to secure food. “I urge Member States to attend the Geneva meeting at a senior level and to pledge generously,” he said, emphasizing that Yemen’s people need a realistic chance for a better future.

Yemen’s representative said his country is at a critical juncture. Urging the Council to sustain the momentum created by the Stockholm Agreement and to condemn those wishing to see that momentum fail, he also called on members and the broader international community to exert pressure on the Houthis to implement the Stockholm Agreement within a clear time frame. At the same time, other persistent grave concerns include the continuing blockade on the Red Sea Mills food storage facility, he said.

Council members were united in expressing their concerns about the suffering of Yemen’s people, with many pledging generous contributions at the donor conference. Several members urged signatories to the Stockholm Agreement to work hard on its implementation, especially in meeting their obligations under international humanitarian law by allowing access to food-storage facilities. The Dominican Republic’s representative said that blocking access amounts to a violation of international humanitarian law and is no different from launching a direct attack on the population, emphasizing: “We cannot allow hunger to become a weapon of war.”

Delegates also highlighted recent achievements and the challenges ahead, with South Africa’s representative welcoming recent progress within the Redeployment Coordination Committee. China’s delegate urged the parties to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations and to assist in deploying UNMHA, established pursuant to Council resolution 2451 (2018) and tasked with monitoring force withdrawals and ceasefire arrangements.

France’s delegate described Security Council unity as a precious and valuable asset, encouraging members to use it as a lever to advance a political solution. The Russian Federation’s representative called upon Council members to continued working towards a comprehensive ceasefire arrangement. Underlining the importance of humanitarian assistance, he said it should go to all inhabitants, regardless of who controls the territory in which they live.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Poland, Kuwait, Indonesia, Belgium, United States, Côte d’Ivoire, Peru, Germany and Equatorial Guinea.

The meeting began at 10:16 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.

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