In Yemen, 18 million people are affected by food insecurity [fr]
Yemen - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 27 February 2018
"Three quarters of the Yemeni people are in need of assistance. More than 2 million of them are displaced. More than 18 million are affected by food insecurity and at risk of starvation. Our priority must be to address one of the worst crises in the world by delivering comprehensive, secure, unimpeded humanitarian access to the people affected in all Yemeni governorates." François Delattre
On behalf of France, I would like to warmly thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, for his excellent briefing, outstanding work, exemplary commitment, tireless efforts and his determination in spite of difficult challenges and risks to his own life. I would like to convey my country’s profound respect and gratitude for his efforts. I also thank Mr. John Ging for his briefing, which again underscored the extreme gravity of the situation.
I will focus my statement today on four main points — the political and security stalemate in Yemen, the ongoing deterioration of the humanitarian situation, the impact of the crisis on the region and the importance of an urgent resumption of the political process.
The situation in Yemen has become increasingly complex over recent years and weeks. Following the assassination of former President Saleh, a coalition of groups from the south of Yemen opposed to President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour has assumed control of the vast majority of Aden, where Government headquarters is located. That recent development has diminished the prospects for a political settlement, but should not serve to call into question the territorial sovereignty of Yemen, to which we are all deeply committed. There are several conflicts: between the Government of President Hadi and the Houthis, between the Houthis and the Arab coalition, between the supporters of former President Saleh and the Houthis, and between the groups from the south of Yemen and the Government. Al-Qaida- and Da’esh-affiliated groups are also present and active as the primary beneficiaries of the prevailing chaos.
The main victims of the many conflicts are civilians. The Yemeni people are plagued by a humanitarian disaster. Three quarters of the Yemeni people are in need of assistance. More than 2 million of them are displaced. More than 18 million are affected by food insecurity and at risk of starvation. There is dearth of basic necessities and health risks, such as diphtheria and cholera, remain high, as was eloquently mentioned earlier, at a time when health and medical infrastructure has been crippled. Our priority must be to address one of the worst crises in the world by delivering comprehensive, secure, unimpeded humanitarian access to the people affected in all Yemeni governorates. That access must guaranteed and sustained. The coalition’s humanitarian plan is an encouraging step forward and should be commended. It is critical to ensure that it be effective and delivered in full cooperation with the United Nations and non-governmental organizations.
Financial assistance for the Yemeni Central Bank is another step in the right direction in the light of economic difficulties that have just been mentioned. It is also essential that humanitarian and commercial goods transit through all ports, including Hudeydah and Saleef, and all airports, in particular Sana’a. The blockade must be lifted again to enable the greatest amount of predictability for humanitarian and commercial actors. Inspection efforts conducted by the United Nations verification and inspection mechanism to ensure that cargo entering Yemen does not contain goods that violate the embargo must continue. We continue to emphatically condemn any attempt to divert humanitarian assistance. Indiscriminate attacks against civilians must cease. International humanitarian law must be fully respected. The crisis also has an impact on security in the region. We are concerned about the continued deterioration of regional stability and security. Yesterday we voted on a technical roll-over of the sanctions regime, which will enable the Panel of Experts to continue their important work. However, we regret that the Council was not able to agree on the first draft resolution vote on (S/2018/156).
We have voiced our concerns about the conclusions of the report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen issued on 15 February and have repeatedly condemned the ballistic-missile launches staged by the Houthis, specifically against Saudi Arabia. As we mentioned yesterday, France will remain galvanized on the question of the transfer of technology and ballistic material throughout the region in the months to come. This is an issue that the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, will address in Tehran during his visit on 5 March.
In this critical context, France’s demands are clear, namely, a ceasefire and secure, comprehensive and unfettered humanitarian access. This is not optional but an obligation under international humanitarian law that is binding on all parties, which we would stress to all parties to the conflict. The more entrenched the conflict becomes, the more evident it appears that there can be no military solution in Yemen. The appointment of the new Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Mr. Martin Griffiths, affords an opportunity for all parties to meaningfully re-engage, without preconditions, in the negotiations. We must continue to convey to regional actors a clear message about the importance of playing a responsible and constructive role in Yemen; this is critical.
Our common goal must remain to arrive at a lasting cessation of hostilities and to encourage the parties to rekindle dialogue, with a view to arriving at a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement in a manner that respects the country’s territorial integrity.
In concluding, let me say that we hope that the resumption of the political process will help to break this disastrous deadlock. Let us be cautious, in this context, to avoid creating divisions among us that could have serious consequences. The unity and commitment of the Security Council on this issue are prerequisites to arrive at this necessary resumption of the political process. France will continue to spare no effort to achieve that end.