31 October 2016 - The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely serious [fr]
Yemen - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 31 October 2016
Allow me to thank Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, whose valuable and continued efforts we welcome; Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; and Muhannad Hadi, World Food Programme Regional Director, for their briefings and their commitment.
As we have just heard, the humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely serious. There are several aspects that we find particularly troubling.
First is the attacks on the civilian population. France firmly condemned the attack on 8 October, where, according to the United Nations, there were 140 deaths and many wounded. We cannot stress enough how essential it is that all parties respect international humanitarian law.
The degradation of the health situation is very troubling. Yemen’s health-care system is almost completely destroyed, and Yemenis no longer have access to basic health services. Today more than 19 million people — approximately 80 per cent of the population — have difficulty in accessing drinking water and basic sanitation. In these circumstances, the outbreak of cholera — with 6 deaths, 61 confirmed cases to date and more than a million potentially contaminated people — is particularly disturbing and shows the extent to which the situation has deteriorated.
The picture painted by the World Food Programme indicates that part of the population is on the brink of famine. There has been no significant improvement for months, especially in the regions most affected by the conflict, and today 14 million Yemenis — over half the population — live in conditions of food insecurity, with 7 million of them in a food emergency situation. Malnutrition rates have also reached alarming heights.
The survival of millions of Yemenis depends today on the immediate and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as on the re-establishment of services that are essential for survival. More than ever, the parties must ensure total, secure, permanent and unhindered humanitarian access, pursuant to their international obligations. In particular, the parties must facilitate and guarantee the work on the ground by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Given these tragic circumstances, the recent military developments are unacceptable, and it is with great concern that we have noted that the 72-hour ceasefire last week was not only not fully observed, but it was also not renewed. Attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and against Saudi territory must cease. Moreover, it is essential to determine precisely which country is providing arms to the Houthis.
We once again call on parties to commit to and honour a new and immediate cessation of hostilities, which would provide a respite for the local population and enable a resumption of negotiations. As we have stated time and again, the only solution to the conflict is a political one. We deeply regret the rejection of the peace plan proposed by the Special Envoy. We are ready, in the Security Council, to determine how to pressure the parties to the Yemeni conflict to shoulder their responsibilities. The Yemeni population has been subjected to untold suffering. Each party must make the necessary concessions and put their individual interests aside. Each party must be able to commit to the road map for peace and its implementation.
The basic parameters of the settlement are known to one and all, as they were the result of in-depth consultations over several months in Kuwait, New York and, in recent days, in Riyadh and Sana’a. It is crucial that the international community, particularly regional Powers, support the process and not fuel the risk of escalation. We reiterate our full support for the tireless efforts of the Special Envoy and his road map — his commitment and determination to bring the parties to an agreement are remarkable and are to be encouraged.
The longer the conflict lasts, the more difficult it will be to deal with its long-term consequences. The more the humanitarian situation deteriorates, the greater the reconstruction needs will be. The longer the instability persists in the country — not allowing the legitimate Government to exercise the control that it should have — the greater the risk of terrorism, which threatens not only Yemen but, as we know, the entire world.
In conclusion, I would point out once again our support for the efforts of the Special Envoy, who spares no effort or time in securing the commitment of all parties in restoring peace and stability in Yemen. We fully trust him in reaching a definitive proposal that will lead to an agreement. In our national capacity, we are fully behind him and we will use every opportunity to engage in dialogue with our regional partners to advocate a cessation of hostilities and a peaceful settlement in Yemen. Let us together show that it is possible to have a unified Security Council in order to settle the crisis, under the aegis of the United Nations. It is our responsibility to do so, and if we pool our efforts we will have the means.