I want to thank SRSG Martin Griffiths and USG Mark Lowcock for their briefings.
Moreover, I would like to wish Muslims in Yemen and around the world Eid Mubarak.
Norway welcomes the international community’s increased efforts to achieve progress in Yemen, and would like to thank you Martin, as well as US Envoy Lenderking, Oman and other regional actors, including Saudi-Arabia.
We are encouraged by news of recent prisoner exchanges in Marib, facilitated by local mediators. I believe such initiatives represent the capacity of the Yemeni people to find practical solutions - and reflect their genuine will for peace.
However, we deeply regret that a nationwide ceasefire has still not been agreed upon, and that the humanitarian crisis and violence continue unabated.
We are appalled by the high level of violence. March saw the highest number of civilian casualties in six months. At least 90 children have been killed since January. We also know that children are recruited and used in armed battle. This is unacceptable.
We are troubled by reports that fighting is affecting IDP sites and civilian areas, mainly in Marib, but also in Hajjah and Hudaydah. In addition to shelling and attacks by the Houthis, we hear reports that heavy coalition airstrikes have hit IDP camps and civilian houses. 80 per cent of IDPs in Yemen are women & children.
Humanitarian access to people in need must be granted immediately. There is an urgent need to ensure sufficient and predictable supplies of food - and fuel. We call for and a lifting of the sea blockade and an immediate reversal of all restrictions on humanitarian actors. We are deeply concerned by reports that starvation is being used as a weapon.
We should not forget the dire situation in Taiz. We are shocked by reports that Houthis have denied people in the city access to water. Furthermore, roads must be reopened to end the long-term siege.
President, I would like to highlight the critical role that journalists play in wars. We are alarmed by the treatment of journalists in Yemen. Norway condemns the death sentences against four journalists by a Houthi court in April last year. Their cases will come up for review this month, and we call for their immediate release.
The spread of Covid-19 in Yemen is alarming. We are glad to see that COVAX vaccines are being distributed in government- controlled areas, but supplies are far from sufficient. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to distribute vaccines in the North, in compliance with WHO guidelines.
President, it is time to act. We urge all actors, especially key actors in the region, to use their influence and leverage towards the parties. Any sustainable solution to the conflict in Yemen must be inclusive and address its root causes. In this regard, we are deeply concerned by the recent large-scale shipment of weapons, which was apparently on its way to Yemen.
Moreover, I would like to stress that the Riyadh Agreement, and the establishment of a unity government, are important steps toward peace. Rivalry and fragmentation, whether in the South or on the West Coast, only derail efforts of securing peace and stability.