Yemen : to pave the way for a political solution [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 16 November 2018
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, as well as Mr. Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, for their briefings, which provide us with a very clear framework for analysis and action. I also thank Mr. Beasley and Ms. Jarhum for their important briefings on the situation in Yemen, which is more worrisome than ever.
France believes that, when confronted with the increasingly devastating humanitarian tragedy in Yemen, we have the collective responsibility, and now an opportunity, to put an end to the war and pave the way for a political solution. Despite the scope of the problems, there is a window of opportunity today that the Security Council must take advantage of by doing all it can to support the necessary cessation of hostilities and the Special Envoy’s mediation efforts. In that connection, I would like to turn to the situation in Al-Hudaydah, which is the tipping point for the situation in Yemen, and touch upon the constant deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
Recent clashes and bombardments, which have claimed the lives of many people, are endangering civilians, especially women and children, as well as endangering civilian infrastructure and blocking aid delivery routes. The ongoing daily deterioration of the humanitarian situation is pushing us ever closer to total disaster, while the latest estimates point to widespread famine, a large-scale cholera epidemic and the possibility that several generations of Yemenis will be completely deprived of an education. In that respect, military pauses are a means of reducing the intensity of clashes and fostering a positive climate for the resumption of political discussions, but it is clear that we must go further.
My second point is that it is more important than ever to respond to Mr. Lowcock’s five specific asks. That must be our top priority. The Council must call for a lasting cessation of hostilities as soon as possible and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, especially if it is critical to the country’s economy. The access and delivery of humanitarian aid and imports, including between Sana’a and Al-Hudaydah, as well as the stabilization and recovery of the Yemeni economy, are essential, as was so eloquently voiced earlier.
Humanitarian and medical personnel who operate in a high-risk environment must not only be protected, but must be able to plan their operations and implement them safely. I would like to reiterate our full support for the efforts of humanitarian actors, who work in particularly difficult conditions. We also commend the work of the United Nations and all the teams involved to develop a single road map on the humanitarian dimension in relation to the World Bank, the humanitarian response plan and the new Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which must be adequately financed, as Mr. Lowcock indicated. Finally, I would like to reiterate France’s full support for Special Envoy Griffiths. I thank him for his tireless efforts to resume negotiations in order to reach an inclusive and lasting political solution. France resolutely stands with Mr. Griffiths.
We believe, again, that there is now a real window of opportunity to relaunch a credible political process — the only solution to the crisis in Yemen. The humanitarian tragedy looming over the country must compel us to act. As the Special Envoy indicated, several obstacles have been removed, such as the sensitive issue of the evacuation of wounded Houthis, which is an important step towards ensuring that the Houthis are present at the negotiating table. We therefore encourage the Special Envoy to continue discussions with all parties with a view to making further progress on confidence-building measures. The momentum must be maintained. We are ready to collaborate on a draft resolution to respond to the humanitarian emergency by fully endorsing Mr. Lowcock’s five asks and supporting the efforts of Mr. Griffiths to reach a sustainable, comprehensive and inclusive agreement. In that connection, as Ms. Jarhum noted, women’s participation in resolving the Yemeni crisis is essential.
We therefore call on the parties to engage with the Special Envoy immediately, without conditions and in good faith. We call on all those involved to facilitate that work, and we welcome the recent announcements of support for the United Nations process made by stakeholders in the region. The quest for a solution is becoming more urgent every day. For millions of Yemenis, it is now a very real question of life or death. France will remain fully committed in that regard.