Thank you firstly to Special Envoy Griffiths, USG Lowcock and Executive Director Beasley for their introductory remarks. Norway joins this Council’s consideration of the situation in Yemen after about six years of conflict. The use of military force has only led to human suffering and the destruction of an already fragile country.
Yemen is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Pockets of famine-like conditions have returned to Yemen for the first time in two years. It is crucial - perhaps now more than ever - for the parties to the conflict to agree to meet in direct consultations, under the auspices of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, with an aim to bridge differences on the Joint Declaration, and to agree on: a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures, and a resumption of political consultations.
The establishment of a unitary government in Aden, and the steps taken to implement the Riyadh Agreement are highly welcome. We appreciate efforts made by all parties in this regard, especially Saudi Arabia. It is important now to ensure further and continued implementation, and commitment to stability in the South.
I echo comments made by the briefers and colleagues, and strongly condemn the attacks on Aden airport and the presidential palace on 30 December. These attacks left several civilians dead and injured, including three humanitarian workers from the ICRC. This was an unacceptable assault on the political process, on civilians, and humanitarian workers. Our thoughts are with the victims’ families and relatives.We support the Panel of Experts on Yemen and expect all parties to cooperate with it. We welcome an independent examination to establish the facts around these attacks.
Furthermore, we are concerned by the imminent US designation of Ansar-Allah – the houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. We fear that such an action may exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation, worsen the economy, and impede the political process. It is important that any measures taken do not negatively affect humanitarian activity and imports to Yemen, including by commercial actors.
We see that the only way to resolve this crisis and bring peace and stability to Yemen is through a broad and inclusive political process. Such a process cannot be successful without the full, equal and meaningful participation of women. The participation of women and youth in all stages of peace processes is imperative to reaching sustainable peace.
In this respect, we stand ready to assist the Yemeni government to implement its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
We also remain particularly concerned by the blatant violations of children’s rights in Yemen. The recruitment and use of children as soldiers must stop immediately. And schools must be a safe place for children to learn, in line with the Safe Schools Declaration.
Colleagues, the continuing cycle of violence and numerous reports of civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen is concerning. It is imperative that all parties to the conflict respect international humanitarian law, and ensure the full protection of civilians, especially children.
We are alarmed by the humanitarian situation and risk of famine, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and continued violence. According to OCHA, 47,000 Yemenis may be at risk of starving to death by the end June of this year and another 5 million are only one-step behind. And this is if we keep the humanitarian contributions at the current level.
This is appalling. We urge all donors, including regional ones, to make early and generous contributions. The economic crisis and the devaluation of the riyal is further escalating an already critical situation. It is important to find ways to support the Yemeni riyal and prevent further suffering of the Yemini people.
The most shocking component of this humanitarian crisis is that it is entirely caused, and prolonged by, the conflict. This means that it is also entirely preventable.We urge all parties to allow sufficient import of food and fuel supplies, and to facilitate full, safe, and unhindered, humanitarian access. But ultimately, we call on all parties to end the conflict. This is a duty owed to the people of Yemen.