Only a political solution will allow to put an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people [fr]
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 23 October 2018
First of all, I would like to thank the United Kingdom for having taken the initiative of convening this meeting in the extremely deteriorated humanitarian context of which we are all aware and which Mr. Lowcock has just described. His warnings and expectations are very clear, and we must all act with a sense of urgency in the light of what he told us. For months, we have seen the ongoing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. War, extreme poverty and economic collapse have created such a high degree of systemic weakness of society and the State that we are today at the brink of catastrophe.
Since our last meeting in the Council a month ago (see S/PV.8361), the situation has been exacerbated by the continued fall of the rial, the ongoing fighting in Al-Hudaydah and a decline in the amount of foodstuffs unloaded in Al-Hudaydah since September. In addition, in the south-eastern province of Al-Mahrah, there was damage caused by tropical cyclone Luban. The result, as the Special Envoy described, is a risk of widespread famine that could affect more than 22 million people, a large-scale cholera epidemic and the possibility that several generations of Yemenis will be deprived of an education.
Secondly, in this extremely difficult situation, we must pursue our efforts to ensure respect of international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian and commercial access and delivery, as well as to promote the recovery of the Yemeni economy. Those points are included in the Council’s 21 September presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/18) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. We must implement them in Yemen. Two immediate concrete goals are to ensure the protection of civilians from bombing and artillery fire, particularly in a city as densely populated as Al-Hudaydah, and to allow civilians to move freely and safely. Civilian infrastructure must also be protected.
We must continue to strive to achieve other goals often mentioned in the Council.
First, we must protect humanitarian personnel, including those working in the rapid response mechanisms in Al-Hudaydah province and elsewhere in Yemen, who operate in a very dangerous environment. They must be able to plan their operations in advance and implement them safely. I once again convey to them the full support and admiration of France.
Secondly, humanitarian and commercial access must be ensured. The ports of Al-Hudaydah and Saleef must remain open and accommodate at least as many essential commodities — including food and fuel — as they did before December 2017. A solution is urgently needed so that the World Food Programme can access silos containing essential foods for the population and then transport them to Al-Hudaydah province and the rest of the country. The same is true for fuel. The main artery between Al-Hudaydah and Sana’a must remain accessible, and we call on the parties to do everything in their power in that regard.
Finally, it is essential to intensify efforts to contain the soaring inflation of prices for food items, the collapse of the rial, and the lack of compensation for a large majority of Yemenis. There is an urgent need for progress in the negotiations led by the Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, with the Yemeni Government and the Houthi rebels on this topic, particularly with regard to the restoration of the Yemeni Central Bank. The work of the international financial institutions must also continue to make the recovery of the banking and financial system feasible.
In that context — and I will conclude here — France reiterates its call on the parties to engage fully with the Special Envoy in order to reopen the dialogue and move the political process forward. We know that only a political solution will make it possible to put a permanent end to the suffering of the Yemeni people. The search for that solution is becoming more and more urgent every day. United Nations mediation is the only way to revive discussions with a view to reaching an agreement on the management of the port of Al-Hudaydah, resuming talks, achieving a durable cessation of hostilities and defining the parameters for a political solution.