Humanitarian actors must be able to have unrestricted access to populations [fr]
Humanitarian situation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Kenya - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 10 March 2017
I should like to begin by thanking Mr. Stephen O’Brien for his very illuminating briefing and his exemplary commitment, and for his pressing appeal to all actors involved in the face of a situation in which millions of people are threatened with famine in Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria and are already experiencing famine, unfortunately, in South Sudan.
I should like also to pay tribute to the admirable work done by humanitarian workers in the field, who are very often working in the most difficult of circumstances.
I should like to convey three main messages today.
The first is that the action of the United Nations, is essential as it is, cannot substitute for the responsibilities that the Governments of these four countries have vis-à-vis their populations. It is these Governments that have the primary responsibility to protect their populations.
In South Sudan, the recent declaration of famine in certain parts of the country is an illustration of the tragic situation that has prevailed in the country for more than three years now due to the political conflict. Because of the fighting and the violence of which they are the deliberate targets, entire populations have had to leave their land and their villages and can no longer provide for themselves. The fear of violence has also meant that some of that land, despite being fertile, has not been planted. Let us not be mistaken here: this famine is largely man-made. We call upon the Government of South Sudan to take into account the needs of its population.
In South Sudan and in Yemen, only a political solution to the conflicts there will make it possible to address the root causes of those conflicts and to put an end to the suffering of the people. In this regard, we support the mediation efforts led by the United Nations, in particular the work of the Special Envoy on Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, in enabling the resumption and continuation of negotiations, and an early and lasting cessation of hostilities. In South Sudan, we call for the rapid implementation of the peace agreement; the national dialogue should not be an obstacle in this respect.
The rule of law and good governance are also essential to prevent such scourges. We hope that the commitments undertaken by the new Somali President, Mr. Farmajo, will be followed up by concrete action, particularly with regard to the reform of the security sector. In South Sudan, constraints on public freedoms is of concern.
The second message that I would like to send today is that the United Nations and humanitarian actors must be able to access all people who need their help, without bureaucratic red tape or threats to their security.
Mounting tensions — even hostility — with regard to humanitarian actors hamper the delivery of supplies and the provision of basic needs. That is often compounded by the refusal of access by armed groups on the ground, as well as administrative blockages and lengthy bureaucratic procedures. As Mr. O’Brien has just mentioned, there is an ever-growing number of obstacles to humanitarian assistance.
The Governments of the States concerned have a special responsibility. They must ensure safe and unhindered access to the United Nations and humanitarian actors, wherever populations need emergency assistance. The various bureaucratic obstacles imposed by the authorities, in particular the South Sudanese authorities, are helping to slow down the provision of the necessary aid to the most vulnerable populations.
We are particularly concerned about the situation in South Sudan, where humanitarian actors and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan are all too often the target of attacks, harassment or access restrictions. These hindrances are committed by all the parties to the conflict, be it the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the SPLA in Opposition, or the various armed groups that are multiplying in the country. These access restrictions must cease immediately.
We must collectively and unambiguously express our condemnation of such barriers, which are contrary to international humanitarian law. I recall that all parties to conflicts are obligated to facilitate the delivery of food supplies. Without that, the mobilization of the international community would be absolutely ineffective.
These problems are also quite acute in Yemen, where the ongoing fighting threatens to further exacerbate the humanitarian situation. The parties to the conflict must immediately cease indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Such actions could be classified as war crimes. It is also imperative that humanitarian actors have unhindered access in order to bring the basic necessities to the population.
The third message I want to deliver today is that in order to cope with the magnitude of the financial need, it is important to foster a comprehensive approach in order to create synergies and to improve coordination with other donors, and to mobilize goodwill, including — as Stephen O’Brien said — private donors and businesses, as well as “non-traditional” donors, in particular emerging economies.
It is through general mobilization and the use of all means at our disposal that we can help people in need and respond to the call of Stephen O’Brien. In that context, we welcome the holding of the Yemen donors’ conference, to be held 25 April in Geneva.