Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council Open VTC

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14-May-2020 01:59:30
'Significant progress' made towards lasting ceasefire in Yemen, UN Special Envoy tells Security Council.

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UN Special Envoy for war-weary Yemen, Martin Griffiths, told the Security Council on Thursday, that he had been in intensive negotiations with the warring parties in Yemen over a lasting peace deal, with "significant progress" made, especially towards making the UN's call for a complete silencing of the guns, a reality.

Despite a looming COVID-19 pandemic and a global economic downturn threatening even more adversity, he maintained that the UN has provided “a feasible roadmap” that puts the onus on “those with arms and power”, to achieve it.

"I am coming to this Council yet again to express hope, instead of to report success. And this is frustrating, at a time when the spread of COVID-19 and a global economic downturn threaten to cause even more adversity in a country that has already experienced more than nearly any other", said Mr. Griffiths.

He underscored that peace, and realizing the ceasefire call, was part of a broader package of needs that must include humanitarian and economic measures.

Describing the situation in Aden where the UN envoy fears “a perfect storm is brewing”, he spoke about COVID-19, malaria and cholera causing deaths to rise daily – and a health system ill-equipped to diagnose and treat people – exceptionally heavy flooding has damaged infrastructure and homes; and long-deteriorating public services that are now at a breaking point.

“The transitional period would give Yemen an opportunity to escape the misery of conflict”, he said. “It would allow for the focus to shift toward reconstruction, recovery and reconciliation”.

“I insist that such a future for Yemen is eminently realistic…and this Council has a vital role to play in supporting them, and more importantly the Yemeni people, along the path toward peace”, the UN envoy concluded.

With a COVID-19 pandemic threatening the already fragile country, the UN’s acting Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, presented to the Council a bleak humanitarian outlook for Yemen.

“International humanitarian law requires all parties to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects throughout military operations”, he said, noting that that in light of COVID-19, it was even “more critical to respect and protect medical facilities”.

Mr. Rajasingham also noted “a disturbing increase” of harassment and incitement against the UN, which makes its work “more dangerous and sometimes forces partners to pause activities at the time when they are needed the most”.

Yet, the UN official said, “we’re still reaching more than 10 million people every month” with food, water, healthcare and other services and offering “some of the best chances for people to protect themselves against COVID-19”.

He said the World Health Organization (WHO) had been forced to scale back its operations due to lack of funding, including shuttering therapeutic feeding centres that treat the most severely malnourished children.

“We are urgently appealing to donors to release funds now to sustain principled aid operations”, said Mr. Rajasingham, requesting $2 billion to cover essential activities from June through December.

In closing, Mr. Rajasingham spelled out: “Peace is the best chance Yemen has to contain COVID-19, and we hope the parties will work with the Special Envoy to make it a reality”.

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