Yemen: Concerned at deterioration of humanitarian and security situations [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 15 May 2019
I would like to begin by warmly thanking Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore for their very enlightening interventions. I also thank the Peruvian Chair of the relevant Committee for his briefing. Today I would like to focus on three points in particular.
First, I would like to strongly reaffirm France’s full and complete support for the tireless efforts of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, as well as Lieutenant General Lollesgaard, with whom we will have a discussion later.
We welcome the announcement by the United Nations of the commitment to redeploying forces from the ports of Al-Hudaydah, Saleef and Ras Isa. Lieutenant General Lollesgaard was on the ground to verify that redeployment. Such developments are an encouraging signal for the full implementation of the agreements concluded between the Yemeni parties. We have every confidence in the United Nations teams that will monitor the redeployment, which is part of the first phase of the plan agreed by the parties in Stockholm. We call on both sides to respect their commitments without seeking to exploit the initial redeployments.
At the same time, we strongly condemn yesterday’s drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, claimed by the Houthis. Such attacks are unacceptable. We call on all parties to refrain from any escalation that could jeopardize the implementation of a political solution to the Yemeni conflict and remain concerned about the ongoing threat of arms transfers.
While encouraging the efforts under way, we must remain particularly vigilant and mobilized. Much remains to be done. In that regard, we reiterate our support for the United Nations Mission in Support of the Al-Hudaydah agreement, deployed in January. Its presence on the ground is crucial to monitoring and facilitating the redeployment, as provided for in resolution 2452 (2019). That is to say, it is essential to strengthen the United Nations presence on the ground. In that context, it is important that the remaining observers provided for in the Mission’s mandate be able to arrive quickly. It is up to the parties to ensure the security and free movement of United Nations personnel.
However, the relative holding of the ceasefire in Al-Hudaydah must not allow us to lose sight of the seriousness of the situation in the rest of the country. This will be my second point. We remain seriously concerned about the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian and security situations. The intensity of hostilities has increased throughout the rest of the country. I am thinking in particular of Al-Dhale’e escalation. At the same time, as Mark Lowcock and Henrietta Fore recalled, the already tragic humanitarian situation is worsening, in particular with an increased number of displaced persons.
I would like to reiterate our full support for humanitarian workers, United Nations personnel and civil society, who are working tirelessly with exemplary courage to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni population and who themselves must be protected. It is crucial and urgent that humanitarian access and the delivery of commercial goods be guaranteed by the parties. More than 24 million Yemenis need that assistance and the risk of famine as well as a resurgence of the cholera epidemic is increasing. It is essential to overcome all obstacles to such access, in particular bureaucratic ones.
The World Food Programme at last has access to the Red Sea Mills, which is good news and proves that it is possible for the parties to act responsibly to meet humanitarian needs. We also hear Mark Lowcock’s appeal, which is essential: pledges must be honoured in a timely way in order to respond to the humanitarian emergency.
I would like to emphasize our particular concern about the situation of children in Yemen. Children not only are among the first victims of the conflict but also continue to be recruited and used on a large scale. We must therefore step up our efforts to protect children in the Yemeni conflict. To that end it is imperative to protect schools and to encourage teachers and educational staff to continue or to resume their work under good conditions. In that regard, I would like to commend the essential work done by UNICEF, under the leadership of the Executive Director, which has for example made it possible to rehabilitate six schools in Lahj and to pay more than 100,000 teachers and educational staff in 11 governorates in a few months. I would like to echo the appeal made by Ms. Fore.
Finally, and I will conclude with this point, let us be well aware that resuming the political process as soon as possible is inseparable from the ongoing efforts and remains the priority objective. It is therefore crucial that the parties maintain their engagement with the Special Envoy and Lieutenant General Lollesgaard and play a responsible and constructive role.
The initial results in Al-Hudaydah should make it possible to recreate a positive momentum towards a political solution and to establish, or re-establish, bonds of trust between the parties. In that context, a military solution is, more than ever, not an option.
The resumption of a dialogue on a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement that takes into account the diversity of Yemeni political and civil society actors is the only real prospect for ending the conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis. After having unanimously adopted resolutions 2451 (2018) and 2452 (2019), the Council must do its utmost to promote the momentum initiated in Stockholm. Our collective mobilization and the genuine unity of the Council in supporting the efforts of the Special Envoy are our greatest asset on that path. Let us use that unity as a driver for peace.