Yemen: a political solution must be sought immediately [fr]
Humanitarian situation in Yemen
Statement by Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 21 September 2018
I thank the United Kingdom for taking the initiative to convene this crucial meeting, which is being held at a time when the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate under the circumstances that Mr. Lowcock just eloquently described in detail.
I will address three points. First, I will refer to the escalation of tensions in the governorate of Al-Hudaydah since the beginning of September, specifically in recent days, and the major humanitarian risks it poses. I will then recall the need to do everything possible to guarantee humanitarian access to Yemen and to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. Finally, I will come back to the imperative of a political solution, which must be sought immediately. It alone will bring about a lasting resolution of the crisis.
First, we have reiterated many times that every effort must be made to ensure that the ongoing military confrontation in the Al-Hudaydah region spares the civilian population, which has already been sorely tested and includes many displaced persons. The civilian infrastructure must also be protected and food and power supplies ensured. While the rising tensions could lead to new population displacements, civilians seeking to flee the fighting must be able to move freely
a nd safely.
Furthermore, as Mr. Lowcock recalled, it is necessary to protect the umbilical cord that the port of Al-Hudaydah represents for Yemen. More than three quarters of the humanitarian aid and commercial freight entering the country transits through the port of Al-Hudaydah, which, like that of Saleef, should remain open and fully operational. It is a matter not only of supplying Al-Hudaydah and the region but also of meeting the needs of a hinterland that covers most of the country, including Sana’a, where the vast majority of Yemenis live. The roads between Al-Hudaydah and Sana’a must be kept open to allow for the delivery of food aid and to prevent the large-scale malnutrition already affecting Yemen from becoming an unprecedented famine. Today, owing to the fighting, some of the reserves stored in Al-Hudaydah are already completely inaccessible. It must be clearly said: the conduct of military operations must in no way hinder humanitarian access.
Finally — and this is my third point — the humanitarian personnel who today risk their lives working in extremely dangerous conditions must be protected. It is crucial that the humanitarian actors, upon whom the Yemeni population relies very heavily, can plan their operations in advance and with the guarantee of being protected from attacks.Besides the situation in Al-Hudaydah, we must respond collectively to the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Members have without doubt seen the disturbing pictures of emaciated children that have circulated on social networks and that depict a troubling reality. Civilians are the first victims of war and the consequent shortages. It is therefore important to do everything possible to ensure their protection. France reiteratesits call to ensure full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need.
In addition, the humanitarian response of the United Nations must make it possible to contain the widespread cholera epidemic raging in the country. The vaccination campaigns successfully launched in recent months must be allowed to continue. The humanitarian response must also make it possible to provide Yemeni children with a future, while malnutrition makes them very vulnerable. It is unacceptable that they starve. Moreover, we reiterate that, in all situations of war, everything must be done to protect children from conflict, as required by Security Council resolutions. While the rial has fallen sharply, prices rise and food staples are scarce, the Security Council, and more broadly the entire international community, must support the efforts of the international financial institutions to find a solution to the economic crisis facing the country. France stands ready to act in that regard, building on the work of the humanitarian meeting on Yemen held in Paris on 27 June.
The collapse of the economy and the State structures has in fact caused more deaths than the hostilities themselves. Rebuilding the State structure in a war economy is a tragic impasse that must be overcome. That requires renewed efforts by all, as Mr. Lowcock told us. I state emphatically: the protection of civilians, free and unhindered access to humanitarian aid and the protection of humanitarian and medical personnel are not options; they are obligations under international law for all the parties to the conflict.
In that context, it is absolutely essential to safeguard every opportunity to renew dialogue and to build a genuine political process based on confidence-building
measures between the parties. The meeting in Geneva on 6 September may have been a missed opportunity.
However, that does not in any way mean the end of efforts to advance the political process and should not lead to increased tensions between the parties.Let us remember that the military approach cannot bring about a solution in Yemen. The war has gone on for too long. We therefore call on all the parties to continue to engage with the Special Envoy so as to resume the path of dialogue as soon as possible and to advance the political process, which is the only viable way to put an end to the conflict in Yemen. United Nations mediation alone can relaunch negotiations with a view to an agreement on the management of the port of Al-Hudaydah, a resumption of talks, a lasting cessation of hostilities and the definition of the parameters of a political solution for a durable, comprehensive and inclusive agreement that restores peace in Yemen and security in the Arabian peninsula and the Bab Al-Mandab Strait.Given the terrible humanitarian situation, which has continued to deteriorate, France will remain fully mobilized, particularly within the Council, to work for concrete solutions that facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the political resolution of the conflict. That is the only way to end the suffering of the Yemeni population.