Statement on Yemen
Statement by Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
New York, 17 April 2018
The Kingdom of the Netherlands would like to express its sincere thanks to both briefers. Special envoy to the Secretary-General, Mr. Griffiths; USG for humanitarian affairs, Mark Lowcock, for your very clear and comprehensive briefings. I would like to use this opportunity to welcome Mr. Griffiths, and reiterate our full support to his efforts.
Today I will focus on three aspects: the peace process, the enduring humanitarian crisis and the need to address Yemen’s economic challenges.
Firstly, regarding the political process: 2018 could be a crucial year.
A new envoy brings with it opportunities for renewed dialogue.
Dialogue that is so desperately needed as we move into the conflict’s fourth year.
It is up to all parties to the conflict to seize these opportunities, and to do so without preconditions.
We condemn the continued launching of ballistic missiles by the Houthis and call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from taking steps that would lead to further escalation.
We welcome the Special Envoy’s extensive and inclusive outreach in his first weeks in office, during which he spoke to Yemenis from all sides of the conflict, as well as countries in the region. I would like to particularly welcome, as you said, including women in this outreach as well. We strongly support this inclusive approach and call on all parties to allow full access to the Envoy.
In absence of a ceasefire, the impact of hostilities on civilians remains of great concern. Human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law are reported all too often. We once again urgently call for full compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.
As the war drags on, the need for accountability becomes ever more prominent. Without it, a negotiated political settlement has little chance of sustaining itself.
Secondly, in the absence of a political settlement we call the Council’s attention to the humanitarian crisis.
The pledging of 2 billion dollars at the Humanitarian Conference in Geneva is a positive step. We welcome the quick disbursement of the generous pledge of 1 billion dollars by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
We call on all Member States to follow and disburse their pledges as soon as possible. At the same time, pledges mean little if access is not ensured. We call for the full implementation of the Presidential Statement of the 15th of March, particularly this Council’s clear call for the full and sustained opening of all Yemen’s ports for both humanitarian and commercial goods.
It is deeply worrying that commercial food imports are still not at the level of before the blockade that was imposed in November 2017. At the start of 2018, 8.4 million people were severely food insecure and at risk of starvation; a 24 per cent increase since 2017.
The United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) has a crucial role to play in restoring confidence of commercial shippers that have stayed away since the start of the blockade. UNVIM has our full support and we welcome recent steps taken to address this issue. It is equally important that goods that have entered Yemen reach the people who need them them most.
Unimpeded access throughout Yemen is essential, and unnecessary bureaucratic impediments should be removed by all parties.
My third point is regarding the economy.
Yemen can’t survive on humanitarian aid alone. Due to inflation and loss of income for many Yemenis, access to commercially available supplies is rapidly decreasing. It is essential that public sector salaries are paid across Yemen.
Not only to provide income to millions of Yemenis in need but also to enable the resumption of essential public services, especially in the health and sanitation sectors. With summer approaching, the threat of a renewed cholera outbreak makes this issue even more pressing.
In conclusion, the following steps need to be taken by all parties to the conflict:
- Prevent further escalation and engage with the new Envoy without preconditions.
- Allow full and sustained humanitarian and commercial access into Yemen, as well as throughout Yemen.
- Take urgent steps to resume the payment of salaries and restore public services.
After more than 3 years of conflict the Yemeni people deserve nothing less than our maximum efforts.