Civilians continue to pay the price of hostilities in Yemen [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 17 October 2019
I thank Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, for their briefings.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen remains catastrophic, and our collective response must rise to that challenge.
The civilian population continues to pay the highest price of the clashes; September was the deadliest month of the year. Respect for international humanitarian law is non-negotiable; it is binding on all.
The protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as civilian infrastructure, must be an absolute priority.
Every effort must also be made to ensure immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. The increasing restrictions imposed by the Houthis on humanitarian actors prevent millions of people from receiving humanitarian assistance. That is unacceptable.
It is further essential that contributions to the humanitarian response plan be made without delay. In that regard, we welcome the announcements made by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at the General Assembly’s ministerial week.
Only a political solution will make it possible to put a lasting end to the suffering of the Yemeni population.
We therefore call on the parties to seek such a solution with the assistance of the United Nations, as quickly as possible and without preconditions. We must waste no more time and work without delay to that end, even as we regret that the Al-Hudaydah Agreement is not fully implemented. In that regard, we reiterate our full and complete support for the Special Envoy.
Progress towards a cessation of hostilities could contribute to that objective. We have taken note of the announcement made by the Houthis on 20 September that they would cease their strikes on Saudi territory. That announcement is positive and has been followed by a relative decline in gunfire exchanges. It must be followed by tangible progress on the ground and in the long term. The recent release of prisoners was encouraging. We note the positive signals sent by Riyadh regarding the Houthi proposal. We hope to see an expedited easing of tensions. The United Nations has an essential role to play in supporting those efforts and in helping to restore trust between the parties.
Moreover, there is a great risk that clashes in the south will create an additional front.
We also welcome the progress made possible by the Jeddah talks, initiated by Saudi Arabia. An agreement appears to be imminent, and we hope that it will be concluded as soon as possible.
The engagement of various factions of Yemeni society is crucial to resolving the conflict. The fight against terrorism remains a priority issue in southern Yemen.
France remains fully mobilized and committed to the search for a political solution, the only possible solution to that conflict. The French authorities will continue to act to that end, including at the highest level, in the context of the efforts led by the President of the Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, to ease tensions in the region.