The situation in the Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council, 9152nd Meeting

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13-Oct-2022 02:13:08
Threat of fresh violence looms in Yemen without new truce, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy tells Security Council.

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Parties to the conflict in Yemen had yet to agree on extending their truce, resulting in fresh uncertainty and a heightened risk for violence, the United Nations top official for Yemen told the Security Council today as members urged all parties to the conflict, particularly the Houthi militia, to exhibit cooperation and flexibility, and return to the negotiating table.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grunberg, said that the Yemeni people stood to lose a lot if violence sparked once again. Halting all military aggression was critical, as was the transparent and regular disbursement of salaries to civil servants. The truce’s list of benefits was long, including a significant decrease in civilian casualties.

Reverting to violence and fighting would mean more suffering for the people of Yemen, he continued, adding that violence would also have destabilizing effects on the wider region and risk jeopardizing future peace prospects.

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Joyce Msuya, told the Council, in her briefing, that civilians in Yemen still faced terrible dangers, including from landmines and other explosive hazards, which had killed or injured 70 civilians in September alone. Day-to-day activities such as farming or even walking to school had become life-threatening.

Outlining the humanitarian advances of the past several months under the truce, she warned: “We cannot let these, and other gains go to waste.” She also called for the immediate release of two United Nations colleagues who had been detained in Sana’a for almost a year, and of five United Nations staff still missing after being abducted in February.

In the ensuing discussion, members called on all parties to return to the negotiating table, warning that any escalation in fighting would only result in the pain and suffering for Yemeni people, who had already endured so much.

The representative of the United States echoed the sentiment of several speakers when he underscored the need to pay the salaries of civil servants, nurses and teachers. He also called for a streamlined process to ensure that the port of Hudaydah stayed open to allow the unimpeded flow of fuel.

Several delegates expressed concern over the Houthis’ threatening rhetoric on shipping and cargoes, with the representative of the United Arab Emirates stressing that, over the past eight years, the Houthis had insisted on a path of destruction. “We must identify who is hindering truce efforts” and take action against them, he said.

Other delegates spotlighted the humanitarian plight of the Yemeni people in their calls for peace, with the representative of India urging “warring parties to take a human-centred approach to the conflict”.

Indeed, Norway’s delegate said six months of the truce had brought a significant reduction of violence and civilian causalities. Child casualties had decreased by 34 per cent, she added.

Saudi Arabia’s delegate said the rejection by the Houthi militia of the proposal to extend the truce came as no surprise to those who were aware of the group. The Houthis had taken the Yemeni people hostage and exposed generations to the risks of armed conflict and war.

He outlined other disruptive activities of the Houthis, adding: “They are not peaceful, and they do not care about the suffering of the Yemeni people”. He called on the international community and the Council to reassess them and qualify them as a terrorist group, so that their funding sources dried up.

Yemen’s delegate said the Houthi militia continued to exploit the pain of the Yemeni people for their own gains. The Government of Yemen had been very cooperative in the process to renew the truce and remained committed to peace and to bringing an end to the conflict. But expanding the truce “should not come at the expense of our sovereignty” nor should it empower the Houthi militia.

The Government maintains its part in the truce, including by continuing to facilitate the arrival of fuel and vessels, Yemen’s delegate said. Despite their threats of violence, the Houthis had also issued threats targeting international maritime navigation and oil companies, which would severely impact Yemen’s economy.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, China, Russian Federation, Mexico, Kenya, Brazil, Ghana, Ireland, France, Albania, and Gabon.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:51 a.m.

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