Yemen: France calls for further political discussions [fr]
Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 9 January 2019
I would like to thank the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Mr. Martin Griffiths, and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Mark Lowcock, for their very precise and enlightening briefings, as well as for their exemplary commitment and that of their teams.
First, I would like to talk about the progress made since the adoption of resolution 2451 (2018), which led to the rapid deployment of the advance team of the United Nations monitoring and oversight mission. On that basis, the Redeployment Coordination Committee held its first meetings in late December and early January, which enabled discussions between the parties on the implementation of the truce and the planned withdrawals. That is a first concrete step towards de-escalation, which we welcome. Discussions must continue to build on what has been achieved and make progress, in particular on the redeployment of forces from the city and port of Al-Hudaydah in order to strengthen trust between the parties and generate a virtuous cycle. To use a sports metaphor, we must now score a goal.
Secondly, despite that positive momentum, we must not forget that, as Mr. Lowcock rightly said, the humanitarian situation is still very worrisome and there is an urgent need to help the Yemeni population. Yemen is currently facing the most serious humanitarian crisis of our time. More than 24 million people depend upon humanitarian assistance and there are very high risks of famine and epidemics. It is therefore crucial that the positive momentum in action following the Stockholm talks now be translated into action on the ground. That is necessary in itself, but it is also a precondition for success so that the people concerned take ownership of the process that has begun. We recall that all parties must respect international humanitarian law, in particular as it pertains to the protection of civilians, as well as international human rights law.
We welcome Saudi Arabia’s deposit of $200 million in the Central Bank of Yemen. However, the riyal has once again plummeted, as Mark also reminded us. We must therefore continue our efforts on the economic front. That is essential.
Humanitarian and commercial access, as my colleague from the United Kingdom recalled, must also be guaranteed, including the lifeline between Al-Hudaydah and Sana’a. We call on the parties to demonstrate responsibility in the discussions on the reopening of that axis, which have not yet borne fruit.
Finally, access to the Red Sea Mills for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Food Programme is also crucial, as is the unhindered and undiverted flow of foodstuffs to populations in need. By reducing the level of hostilities and strengthening the functioning of the ports of Al-Hudaydah, Saleef and Ras Issa, the agreement on Al-Hudaydah should facilitate humanitarian aid and access. It is therefore quite literally vital that it be fully implemented for the benefit of the people concerned.
In that context, and this will be my last point, with regard to the Security Council our immediate priority is to ensure that the observation mission has the mandate it needs to function. In that respect, we echo the sentiments just shared by my British colleague. We support the efforts of the United Kingdom’s efforts in that regard, along with the prospect of the Council’s speedy adoption of a draft resolution that will enable the mission to fully achieve its deployment. In that context, it is more important than ever that the Council demonstrate its unity and responsiveness in support of the efforts of Martin Griffiths and the effective implementation of the Stockholm Agreement on Al-Hudaydah. Confident in its unity, the Security Council must bring all of its weight to bear. At the same time, we also call on the parties to do their part to facilitate the work of the United Nations mission, including by issuing the necessary visas and authorizations and ensuring the safety of United Nations personnel on the ground.
The considerable progress made in Stockholm and endorsed by resolution 2451 (2018) is a breakthrough. For it to be a genuine turning point in ending the conflict in Yemen, we call for further political discussions to be held as soon as possible under the auspices of Mr. Griffiths, in order to build on the momentum generated in Stockholm and resume discussions on a comprehensive political framework, because we know that that is the only possible lasting solution to the conflict in Yemen. France will continue to extend its full support to that effort, including within the Council.