Hodeida: We are extremely concerned. [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 2 August 2018
I would like to begin by thanking Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, as well as John Ging, Director of the Coordination and Response Division, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, for their informative briefings and their commitment, as well as that of their teams. They have our full support.
In response to their interventions, I would like to return to two points: first, the situation in Al-Hudaydah, which necessitates the protection of civilians and the guarantee of safe, complete and unhindered humanitarian access; and, secondly, the essential need for a negotiated political solution — the only way out of the crisis in Al-Hudaydah and, more broadly, the conflict in Yemen.
First, the situation in Al-Hudaydah remains very fragile and the recent upsurge of violence is worrying. We are extremely concerned about today’s two-pronged attack near the main Al-Hudaydah hospital, which caused many casualties among civilians. We once again reiterate the priority of France for the protection of staff and medical facilities, as recalled in the political declaration of 30 October 2017. We would like that the circumstances surrounding that attack be fully clarified.
We again call on all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. That is essential in order to prevent the civilian population, who is already suffering the worst current humanitarian crisis, from becoming the primary victim of the clashes. Many have fled the fighting in Al-Hudaydah, with nearly 121,000 displaced persons, according to the figures of the International Organization for Migration and of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is absolutely essential that the displaced be able to safely cross the front lines and have unhindered access to humanitarian assistance. All ports and airports, including Al-Hudaydah and Saleef ports and Sana’a airport, must be kept open and operational.
On Houthi territory, international and local humanitarian partners must also have safe access to those in need. We reaffirm our commitment to the freedom of movement in the Bab Al-Mandab strait, which must be ensured. In that regard, we condemn the Houthi attacks that targeted two Saudi tankers on 25 July. We have noted the announcement by the Houthis of the temporary suspension of their military activities in the Red Sea. That is a first step in the right direction. The high level of violence in Al-Hudaydah and elsewhere in the country threatens to undermine over the long term the political momentum of the efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
Secondly, as the Security Council regularly reiterates, there is no military solution in Yemen. The political process remains the only possibility for the country to emerge from a conflict that has lasted too long. The United Nations mediation plays a central role in reviving the peace negotiations. France renews its full and complete support for the efforts of the Special Envoy to relaunch the dialogue between the parties with a view to an agreement on the management of Al-Hudaydah port, the resumption of talks, a lasting cessation of hostilities and the definition of the parameters of a political resolution.
We therefore call once again on the parties, for their part, to commit in good faith to a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement, particularly in the run-up to the Geneva conference, in which it is essential that all parties participate. We also encourage Yemen’s regional partners to constructively support that process. The objective of the Security Council must be to ensure a cessation of hostilities and to maintain the pressure on the parties in that regard in order to promote the momentum launched by the Special Envoy.