Security Council Briefing: Yemen

Statement by Mrs. Hedda Samson,
Political Coordinator of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations,

New York, 2 August 2018

Thank you, Madame President.

My delegation would like to congratulate you on assuming the presidency for this month. And I assure you of our support to you and your team. Also, we would like to thank Sweden for an excellent steering of the Council’s work in July.

I would like to express our sincere thanks to both briefers, Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and OCHA Director John Ging. And as fighting in Yemen continues, your briefings instill in us a strong sense of urgency.

In my intervention, I will focus on three aspects:

  • Firstly the political process including the situation in Hudayda;
  • Secondly, the humanitarian consequences of the conflict; and
  • Thirdly, our concerns about the lack of respect for international humanitarian law in Yemen.

1. The political process

Firstly, on the political process. The Kingdom of the Netherlands remains very concerned about the ongoing hostilities in and around the port and city of Hudayda, and the impact of this escalation on the prospects for negotiations. We fully support the Envoy’s efforts to come to a peaceful solution for Hudayda, as well as the broader Yemeni conflict and we support his calls to the parties.

We call on all parties to engage constructively with the Special Envoy without preconditions. And we expect all parties to fully commit to the UN facilitated process by participating in the consultations in Geneva early September, as just mentioned by the Envoy.

We also support the Envoy’s call for all parties to create a conducive environment to pave the way for such a meeting and for de-escalation in Hudayda.

Any political agreement is unlikely to last if local grievances and regional divisions are not addressed. The political process therefore has to be an inclusive one. And we welcome the commitment to this end as just expressed by the Special Envoy.

An inclusive political process should encompass a broad range of Yemeni groups, with meaningful participation of women, youth and civil society. We encourage the UN to further engage with them and look forward to more information on this in future briefings.  

2. The humanitarian situation

Madame President, on the humanitarian situation. We echo the concerns raised by OCHA in its briefing about the effects of a protracted fight for the city and port of Hudayda.

The humanitarian consequences for the inhabitants of Hudayda city are expected to be severe. The same is true for the population of northern Yemen that is so dependent for its very existence on humanitarian and commercial imports through Hudayda Port.

In line with this Council’s Presidential Statement of March, we call for the full and sustained opening of the ports of Hudayda and Saleef, as well as the unimpeded distribution of supplies throughout the country. This includes access for ships carrying containers and fuel, as facilitated by UNVIM.

The use of sea mines around the port and attacks on commercial vessels by the Houthi’s further contribute to the risks for commercial and humanitarian shipping and we condemn these practices. The longer the future of Hudayda remains unclear, the more the willingness of commercial shippers to deliver to Yemen will continue to diminish. There is no viable plan B should Hudayda port be further compromised.

3. Respect for international humanitarian law

Madame President, this brings me to my third point: the importance of respect for international humanitarian law. In recent weeks we have seen the number of civilian casualties rise. Mostly as a result of the fighting around Hudayda, but also in Aden, Taizz and Saada.

The obligations of all parties under international humanitarian law are clear and, as this Council has done repeatedly, we once more call on them to fully respect them.

In this regard we condemn the continued firing of ballistic missiles at civilian targets by the Houthi’s. Recent strikes on health and water sanitation facilities, including today’s reports of a strike on a fish market and Al-Thawra Hospital in Hudayda, are equally concerning.

Damage to the vulnerable water sanitation system in Hudayda could immediately trigger a new cholera outbreak, as was underlined by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in her statement on Sunday.

All parties have the obligation to protect civilian infrastructure and humanitarian workers. The humanitarian community continues to work under increasingly difficult circumstances and for that they deserve our praise, support and protection. 

Madame President,

The Group of Eminent Experts was mandated by the Human Rights Council to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and to identify those responsible.

We reiterate our call on all parties to continue to engage with them and provide unfettered access. Their work remains ever more crucial as the conflict rages on.

Conclusion

Madame President, in conclusion. We call on all parties to take responsibility and engage constructively with the Envoy to come to an agreement.

We stand ready to support the UN facilitated political process, which remains the only way to a sustainable peaceful solution for the crisis in Yemen.

Thank you, Madame President.

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