The situation in the Middle East- Security Council, 8929th Meeting

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14-Dec-2021 02:11:01
Warring parties in Yemen must talk even if they ‘are not ready’ to put down arms, Special Envoy tells Security Council, describing escalating violence.

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Urging 15-Nation Organ to Save Yemeni Lives, Key Representative Stresses Houthis Believe in Ethnic Supremacy, Do Not Want Political Solution

Warring parties can and must talk even if they are not ready to put down their arms, the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for Yemen told the Security Council today, as he and the head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shared a grim snapshot of escalating violence, shifting front lines and widespread hunger, displacement and desperation among civilians.

“Given that the parties have not met to discuss a broader set of issues for over five years, establishing a renewed political process is a complicated task,” said Special Envoy Hans Grundberg in his briefing. Expressing his alarm regarding the current considerable military escalation and increased violence since his last Council briefing, he warned that this could open a new more fragmented and bloodier chapter. While parties have expressed a desire for peace, the focus remains on military options.

Restraint, de‑escalation and dialogue are urgently needed, he said, recalling such recent events as the Government’s military evacuation in Hudaydah and the influx of Ansar Allah forces that has shifted front lines amid heightened artillery and air strikes. Nonetheless, military escalation must not be allowed to stop the peace process, with the Council’s support being critical in that regard. Actions must centre on mitigating the conflict’s impact on civilians and aim at ending the conflict, he stressed, adding that: “Wars do have rules”, and the parties must respect those obligations, including the protection of civilians.

Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary‑General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said serious gaps persist in reaching the most vulnerable in Yemen due to funding constraints that are poised to worsen unless donors increase contributions. Still, every month, emergency aid reaches about 80 per cent of recently displaced people in Marib, Hudaydah and Taiz, and 11 million people — a third of the population — across the country. Meanwhile, aid delivery challenges are greatest in regions controlled by Ansar Allah and face a rise in bureaucratic hurdles in Government‑held areas.

With Yemen’s economy in freefall, millions more people are pushed into aid dependence, he said, calling for the implementation of a United Nations-developed economic framework aimed at helping to address rampant inflation and plummeting currency values. Noting the recent appointment of a new Governor and Board of Directors for the Central Bank in Aden, he urged Yemen’s partners to work closely with them and encouraged such measures as lifting restrictions on commercial imports through the Red Sea ports to help lower commodity prices.

When the floor opened, Council members roundly called for boosting efforts to advance peace talks and end the spiralling violence. Many urged all parties to cooperate with the United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) and heed obligations to international law to protect civilians.

The United States representative, expressing support for all discussions to help the current situation, said Iran must end its “lethal support” of the Houthis, who must, among other things, return seized property to the United States Embassy, end missile strikes against Saudi Arabia and take responsibility for the Safer tanker crisis.

Echoing other members’ concerns, Norway’s delegate said measures must urgently address widespread displacement. Calling on all parties to show restraint, she pointed to the 45,000 displaced people living in camps in Marib under difficult conditions — a tenfold increase since September. She also cited the latest report by Save the Children, which documented Yemen as being among the top three countries globally where children are at risk of being recruited for use in armed conflict.

In the same vein, the Russian Federation’s representative said the humanitarian crisis is approaching a full‑scale disaster. Stagnation in the political process appears to be reaching a point of no return; the parties have dug in their heels and are not ready to restart United Nations‑led negotiations. As such, the Special Envoy’s mediation attempts will remain unsuccessful, he said, underlining a real need to review the basis for the political settlement in order for the Special Envoy help to reconcile the numerous competing interests of parties to the conflict.

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, highlighting factors driving the conflict, said a political solution to the armed conflict must be pursued in parallel with a comprehensive plan to reinvigorate the economy. These two factors are also deeply connected to the catastrophic humanitarian situation, she observed, appealing to donors to disburse funds and increase pledges with a sense of urgency.

Kenya’s delegate, emphasizing that arms smuggling continues to feed the ongoing atrocities, stressed that the Security Council must deal with those who are benefiting from the suffering of the people of Yemen. Pointing to recent reports of an intercepted illicit arms shipment destined for Yemen, he said armed groups in several countries, including Yemen and Somalia, are increasingly using the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean for smuggling, which undermines existing arms embargoes. To address this trend, efforts must be boosted to tighten the implementation of related sanctions.

Ireland’s representative stressed: “Yemenis want to wake up from this nightmare.”. Recalling a recent declaration by 40 Yemeni tribal leaders calling for a comprehensive and immediate ceasefire, she urged the Houthis to immediately halt their offensive on Marib. Underscoring the importance of gender‑mainstreaming Yemen’s peace negotiations, she also welcomed the Yemen Economic Framework and encouraged all parties, including international financial institutions, to constructively engage it.

The representative of Yemen called on the Security Council to assume its responsibility to end the Houthi offensive in Marib and save the lives of millions of civilians and internally displaced persons. Support was also needed for the Yemeni Government in its temporary capital of Aden as it works to overcome the humanitarian crisis, implement structural reforms, regulate the financial sector and stabilize the currency.

However, he also underscored that the Houthis believe in their ethnic and divine supremacy and do not want a political solution, as demonstrated by their use of all international and regional initiatives to buy time and continue attacks on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and humanitarian personnel. He also highlighted that millions of Yemeni children who live in Houthi‑controlled areas are at risk of recruitment and subject to brainwashing. That armed group is using schools as military barracks and weapon depots and is subjecting women to kidnapping and torture.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Viet Nam, China, Estonia, Tunisia, India, France, Mexico and Niger.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:46 a.m.

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