Yemen: growing intensity of conflict and deterioration of humanitarian situation [fr]
Yemen - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 17 April 2018
At the outset, I should like to thank Martin Griffiths for his very detailed and illuminating briefing and for his initial assessment of the steps needed to revive political negotiations in the difficult situation we are seeing. I would like to assure the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen of the full support and faith of France. I also thank Mr. Mark Lowcock for his efforts and for his briefing, which shows how worrying the situation is in Yemen.
Today I will focus on three points: the growing intensity of the Yemeni conflict and the regional impact of the crisis; the ongoing deterioration of the humanitarian situation; and the need to relaunch the political process.
We are all aware of the gravity of the situation in Yemen. France has consistently called on the parties to resume the path of negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations without preconditions, because, as we all know, there is no military solution to the conflict. We also emphasize the urgent need to lay down weapons.
In that context, the latest firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia is unacceptable and must stop. In addition to the gravity of those indiscriminate missile launches and their impact on regional security and stability, they reduce the potential of a political outcome in Yemen. We have repeatedly expressed our concern about the launching of Houthi ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea and have condemned those launches. In this extremely tense regional context, we call for calm from the parties. Let us also bear in mind that the continuation of the conflict benefits only terrorist groups, who use the chaos to strengthen and expand their presence. That is an important factor that must bring us together.
The first victims of this conflict are civilians, in a context where the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. This humanitarian crisis is among the most serious in the world. We have repeatedly welcomed the announcement of the Coalition’s humanitarian plan, which is a positive and encouraging step. We also welcome the adoption of the recent presidential statement S/PRST/2018/5, which defines the humanitarian road map. Finally, the donor conference held earlier this month in Geneva enabled the mobilization of about $2 billion for the 2018 Yemen humanitarian response plan. That is a very good result, even though the gap has not yet been completely filled.
In that context, access to humanitarian aid remains our main concern. It is crucial that all parties ensure rapid, safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance and commercial supplies to those in need. Access to all ports and airports, including the ports of Al-Hudayda, Saleef and Sana’a airport, must be fully assured and kept open. In that regard, we welcome the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism, which is intended to shorten the waiting time for commercial vessels. It is essential that supplies cover all needs, be they food, medicine or gasoline. The current coverage rate is still insufficient, especially for fuel.
Another top priority is to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law in order to protect civilian populations and humanitarian and medical personnel. The parties must respect the zones and periods reserved for the arrival of supplies and humanitarian and medical personnel. I am referring in particular to Sana’a airport.
We remain concerned about the situation of displaced persons, and specifically about the vulnerability of over 3 million women at risk of sexual violence, as well as the threat of a new cholera and diphtheria epidemic in the coming months. The parties must help the United Nations respond to that danger in at-risk regions.
France will remain fully mobilized to concretely improve the situation of the Yemeni population. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has announced that a humanitarian conference on Yemen will be held by this summer in Paris in order to launch new initiatives for the civilian population and better protect them from violations of international humanitarian law. Naturally, we wish to be in close contact with the Special Envoy, Mr. Martin Griffiths, but also with Mr. Mark Lowcock, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as relevant United Nations agencies in order to prepare this conference properly.
In that critical context, we must, alongside our humanitarian commitment, remain more mobilized than ever to support a new political dynamic — the only sustainable outcome to this conflict. The arrival of Martin Griffiths gives the opportunity to all parties to re-engage seriously without preconditions in the negotiations. To carry out its mission, the Special Envoy must have access to all regions and countries where he wishes to go, without any party preventing or jeopardizing his movements.
In the same spirit, we must continue to convey to regional actors a clear message on the need to play a responsible and constructive role in Yemen. We believe that everyone can contribute to a solution. Our common goal must be to achieve a lasting cessation of hostilities and to encourage the parties, in support of United Nations mediation, to resume dialogue for a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement, while respecting the territorial integrity of the country.
Finally, the unity of the Security Council is of vital importance, and we — individually and collectively — have a role to play in that regard. The robust and united support of the international community is indeed essential if we are to prompt the parties to resume the path of dialogue. Despite the scale of the difficulties we are experiencing, there is now an encouraging alignment of the planets that could create a historic opportunity to end the Yemeni conflict. Let us work together to bring about the conditions for such an outcome by supporting the Special Envoy. Council members can rest assured of France’s firm commitment to that end.