Yemen

Mutual Distrust, Competing Priorities Hampering Efforts to Resolve Conflict in Yemen, Special Envoy Tells Security Council amid Calls for Progress

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SC/14764

SECURITY COUNCIL
8946TH MEETING (AM)

Permanent Representative Blames Houthis for Eschewing Peace Initiatives, Side-Lining Women in Consultations

With warring parties locked in a cycle of distrust and disagreement over competing priorities, efforts to resolve the conflict in Yemen — now in its eighth year — are hitting the same obstacles as in years past, the senior United Nations mediator told the Security Council today as delegates explored ways to harness the power of women in charting the country’s future.

“Yemenis must be supported in reversing this trajectory through a serious, sustained and structured process backed by the international community,” said Hans Grundberg, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, who described the country as increasingly fractured — politically, economically and militarily.

He noted that 2022 started on a challenging note, with a Houthi offensive in Marib governorate and parties doubling down on military options. “There is no sustainable solution to be found on the battlefield,” he stressed, urging the sides to talk, even if they are not ready to lay down their arms.

The Special Envoy said he is focused on developing a comprehensive, inclusive multitrack approach that covers political, security and economic issues. This framework will aim to facilitate incremental progress in each of these areas, as part of an overall process to reach a durable political settlement. His Office will continue to convene consultations with women leaders from political parties, civil society and the private sector.

Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, agreed that “recent developments do not give us — or the people of Yemen — much cause for optimism”.

He said fierce fighting has continued along dozens of front lines, with clashes in Al Jawf, Marib and Shabwah displacing more than 15,000 people over the past month alone. In December, 358 civilians were reportedly killed or injured as a direct result of the hostilities, he stressed, urging all parties to spare civilians and civilian objects, as required by international humanitarian law.

And as in many crises, women and girls are bearing the brunt, he said, facing heightened risks of sexual and gender-based violence. He underscored the need to create a more enabling environment for women aid workers, promote gender parity among staff and support more investments in gender-sensitive programming. Noting that the 2022 aid operation is expected to need roughly as much money as in 2021 — $3.9 billion to help 16 million people — he called on all donors to sustain and, if possible, to increase their support.

Also briefing the Council was Ola Al-Aghbary, a local mediator from the south-western city of Taiz, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sheba Youth Foundation for Development. Drawing attention to the success of local mediation efforts, she said her group has set up community councils that work to resolve conflicts daily — efforts that have made a real difference in the lives of local citizens, who are unsupported and suffering.

She pointed out that the role of youth and women is not limited to local action; they are also striving to reach the national scale through participation in peace negotiations under way between warring factions, in coordination with peace organizations, youth groups and the Special Envoy’s office. Support is needed to ensure their involvement through the establishment of consultative councils, in line with resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2250 (2015), she said.

In the ensuing discussion, Norway’s representative, Security Council President for January, spoke in her national capacity to stress that Yemeni women mediate humanitarian access, services and local conflicts every day. She urged the Government to operationalize its women, peace and security strategy and to include women in decision-making and leadership positions. She also encouraged the Special Envoy to seek opportunities for the direct participation of Yemeni women of all political backgrounds and from all regions of the country in these efforts.

Ghana’s delegate said gender mainstreaming must be prioritized in the humanitarian response. The women of Yemen must be empowered as actors in the peace process and in nation-building, rather than remain a predominantly humanitarian dividend. Greater funding and support are needed to secure the delivery of maternal and reproductive health care, keep adolescent girls in school and out of marriage and provide protection from sexual and gender-based violence.

Along the same lines, United Kingdom’s representative underlined the urgent need to tackle the insufficient protections in many camps. Women will never be safe unless there is adequate provision of sex-separated facilities for women, including toilets, she added.

Many delegates voiced deep concern over the escalating violence and deteriorating humanitarian conditions, with India’s representative warning that fierce clashes in Sana’a, Marib and Shabwa are jeopardizing peace prospects, while the seizure of the Emirati-flagged ship off the coast of Hudaydah has only exacerbated the tensions.

On that point, the representative of United Arab Emirates condemned the Houthi act of piracy against the civilian cargo vessel Rwabee — a dangerous escalation in the Red Sea, which requires a firm position by the Council. She also condemned an attempt by Iran-backed Houthi militias to target Saudi Arabia’s territory with drones and ballistic missiles, noting more broadly that her country has contributed more than $6 billion to help meet Yemen’s humanitarian needs.

Taking the floor after the Council members, Yemen’s representative clarified that the Government has not set aside women during peace consultations; rather, it is the Houthis who have done so and who are rejecting all peace initiatives. In contrast, Yemen’s Government is working to restore State institutions and has enacted many reforms. Faced with the world’s worst economic and humanitarian crisis, President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi is striving for a solution and supporting efforts by the United Nations and others to this end.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Ireland, Kenya, Russian Federation, Gabon and Albania.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:01 p.m.

Briefings

HANS GRUNDBERG, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, said 2022 started on a challenging note, with the warring parties doubling down on military options. Seven years into the conflict, the belief that inflicting harm on the other will bring about submission is prevailing. But there is no sustainable solution to be found on the battlefield. The warring parties must talk, even if they are not ready to lay down their arms. Against that backdrop, he said Ansar Allah remains determined to continue its assault on Marib and there is renewed fighting in Shabwa, where three districts have been captured from the group. Air strikes have increased not only around the front lines, but also in the residential areas of Sana’a. Air strikes and shelling in Taiz have gained momentum, while fighting continues in southern Hudaydah and attacks on Saudi Arabia persist. Stressing that these events have increased civilian casualties and the damage caused to civilian infrastructure, he urged the warring parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.

He pointed to the recent seizure of an Emirati-flagged ship by Ansar Allah as another matter of concern, also expressing regret over the detention of United Nations staff members in Sana’a and Marib. Accusations of a militarization of the Hudaydah ports are equally worrying, as are the threats of attacking them, given that these ports are a lifeline for many Yemenis. The United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) is closely monitoring the situation and has requested to undertake an inspection, as part of its mandate. “The Mission continues to engage the parties and other interlocutors on the way forward,” he said, pointing to Major General Michael Beary’s appointment as the new Mission Head as an opportunity to address the concerns.

Citing the disproportionate effects of conflict on women, he said his Office will continue to convene consultations with women leaders from political parties, civil society and the private sector — all of whom are involved in sustaining and improving life in Yemen in different ways, from supporting their families and communities to working for peace or providing valuable services and goods. Many are harassed and targeted for their work, and he urged all actors to respect the rights and work of women peace actors and human rights defenders, while also welcoming the Council’s current focus on the crucial agenda of women, peace and security.

On the security front, he said he has explored ways to address the parties’ stated priorities and to unlock a nationwide ceasefire. Unfortunately, these efforts have faced the same obstacles that have hindered past efforts: the parties’ disagreements over sequencing, competing priorities and a lack of trust. Part of the challenge is that these preconditions are linked to broader political and governance questions. As such, a comprehensive political solution is necessary to achieve sustainable results. “I will nevertheless continue to explore options for fast-tracking de-escalation, if and when the parties are ready to pursue these options.”

He went on to emphasize his focus on developing a comprehensive, inclusive multitrack approach that covers political, security and economic issues. This framework will aim to facilitate incremental progress in these areas, in parallel, as part of an overall process to reach a durable political settlement. In the coming period, he plans to deepen consultations — with the conflict parties and with a wider range of Yemeni stakeholders — to identify and develop the short-, medium- and long-term priorities to be addressed. “As the country is increasingly politically, economically and military fractured, Yemenis must be supported in reversing this trajectory through a serious, sustained and structured process backed by the international community,” he said. While consultations with him and his Office are a start, they will not be enough to settle the conflict. Yemenis of opposing views will need to meet to discuss solutions and determine their shared future, he stressed.

RAMESH RAJASINGHAM, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said he had hoped to deliver some good news at the start of the new year, but “unfortunately, recent developments do not give us — or the people of Yemen — much cause for optimism”. Fierce fighting has continued along dozens of front lines, with clashes in Al Jawf, Marib and Shabwah displacing more than 15,000 people over the past month alone. Hostilities have also resurged in Al Bayda, while air strikes have escalated in Sana’a and other parts of the country. Civilian casualties are being reported at alarming rates. In December, 358 civilians were reportedly killed or injured as a direct result of the hostilities, he stressed, urging all parties to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects, as required by international humanitarian law.

The war is also causing hunger, displacement, economic collapse and the deterioration of basic services, he warned. And as in many crises, women and girls are bearing the brunt, with risks of exposure to sexual and gender-based violence increasing. In 2021, aid agencies assisted more than 11 million people every month. The biggest constraint now is funding, he said, noting that last year’s response plan was 58 per cent funded, the lowest level since 2015. In December, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced cuts to food assistance for 8 million people due to funding shortages. Vital programmes for water, protection and reproductive health services have also been forced to scale back or close in recent weeks. The 2022 aid operation is expected to need roughly as much money as last year, or about $3.9 billion to help 16 million people, and with nationwide assessments under way, he called on all donors to sustain — and if possible to increase — their support this year.

Against that backdrop, he said bureaucratic impediments persist, including significant delays in approving aid projects, issuing staff visas and facilitating movements. Importing necessary equipment is also more difficult than it should be. Attempts at interference are rife — mostly by local authorities in Ansar Allah areas — and involve efforts to change beneficiary lists, determine geographic locations or influence the selection of partners. Many of these constraints can disproportionately affect women and girls. Despite assurances to the contrary, Ansar Allah authorities have not provided access to the two United Nations staff detained in Sana’a in November. Access to a third detained United Nations worker, arrested in Marib in December, is currently being arranged with Government officials, he said, renewing his call for full respect of United Nations privileges and immunities.

Beyond increasing funding and access, he emphasized the importance of improving the way aid agencies work, noting that an inter-agency evaluation of the humanitarian response in Yemen is under way, with the outcome due in March. In addition, women’s voices must be amplified at all levels and he stressed the need to create a more enabling environment for women aid workers, promote gender parity among staff and support more investments in gender-sensitive programming. Explaining that economic collapse, accelerated by the conflict, is the biggest driver of people’s needs, he said the United Nations economic framework lays out a way to strengthen the economy and deliver lasting improvements in people’s lives. This requires a mix of financial and political commitments that, together, could quickly reduce the scale of humanitarian needs. These commitments include resuming foreign-exchange injections through the Central Bank and strengthening livelihoods, skills development and financial services, with ensured access for women in order to boost household incomes, improve food security and reduce needs. “The most transformative change will come only with an end to the fighting that is supported by a lasting and just peace agreement,” he stressed.

OLA AL-AGHBARY, founder and CEO of Sheba Youth Foundation for Development and a local mediator in Taiz city, briefing the Council via video teleconference, said she speaks on behalf of thousands of Yemeni men and women who work every day to establish peace and community coexistence, while not being safe from missile strikes. Her group has set up community councils which work to resolve conflicts arising on a day-to-day basis, she said, adding that these local mediation efforts have made a real difference in the lives of local citizens, who are unsupported and suffering. She pointed out that the role of youth and women is not limited to local action; they are also striving to reach the national scale through participation in peace negotiations under way between warring factions, in coordination with peace organizations, youth groups and the Special Envoy’s Office. Support is needed to enable the formation of youth consultative councils, in line with resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2250 (2015).

She went on to point out that due to the closure of a road connecting the east of the city to the west, she was forced to undertake a perilous eight-hour journey across a mountain road beset by floods and landslides to reach the United Nations office from which she is addressing the Council. Patients, humanitarian workers, students and workers are forced to undertake this dangerous journey from one side of the city to the other, adding a darker shadow to an already bleak existence, she said. As a consequence, Taiz pushes away those who work for it, including those with medical expertise, who relocate to Sana’a and Aden, leaving many in the city to die. Since 2015, young people and civil society members have spared no effort to try to reopen the road; however, such efforts have not been successful, and as a result, women, children and the sick are forced to live in a besieged and unlivable city. Turning to the restoration of basic services, such as the provision of water, she said local mediation efforts had enabled the reclamation of a number of wells which had been under military control. She emphasized the need to ensure the participation of youth and women through the establishing of consultative councils in coordination with the Special Envoy, as well as tangible support for the inclusion of women; for “Taiz understandings”; and for the provision of a contact point between local stakeholders and the Special Envoy’s office.

Statements

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said recent weeks have witnessed a concerning escalation in the conflict around Marib, Shabwa, Hudaydah and Sana’a. Houthi drone attacks have also increased, leading to a significant uptick in civilian casualties. At a time when de-escalation is critical, the United Kingdom extends a welcome to Major General Michael Beary, who takes on leadership of UNMHA. Turning to the deteriorating humanitarian situation, which is leading to worsening food insecurity, she said aid workers must be able to operate without the threat of detention, and access must be granted for humanitarian flights to Sana’a airport. The international community must do all it can to prevent needless suffering and death. She went on to highlight the disproportionate impact of the situation on women, underlining the urgent need to protect women from gender-based violence and tackle insufficient protections in many camps. Women will never be safe unless there is adequate provision of sex-separated facilities for women, including toilets, she noted. On the Houthi seizure of an Emirati-flagged vessel earlier this month, she said it is a “worrying escalation at a time when ordinary Yemenis desperately need the parties to focus on the path to peace”. She called on all parties to resolve the issue quickly and for passage rights and freedom of navigation at sea to be respected.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that the deterioration of the situation on the ground in Yemen increased risks of regional destabilization. Each warring camp is convinced that it can defeat the other, but there is no military solution, he stressed, calling for a nationwide ceasefire. While welcoming the appointment of Major General Beary, he warned of increased tensions on the ground, including Houthis attacks on Saudi Arabia and its capture of an Emirati ship. Yemenis are paying a heavy price, with the number of civilian casualties on the rise. He urged all parties to protect civilians and grant aid workers access to the populations in need. He also called for the immediate release of detained United Nations personnel. Welcoming the restructuring of Yemen’s Central Bank and expressing support for the Special Envoy in relaunching the political process, he said it is critical that women are involved in creating the country’s future.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) reiterated support for all efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution in Yemen under the auspices of the United Nations. However, achieving progress will not be possible until Houthi militias cease their hostilities and violations against the Yemeni people. Condemning that group’s repeated attempts to capture Yemeni territories by force, as well as its use of explosive-laden speedboats and sea mines, she called on its leaders to respond immediately and without conditions to a request by UNMHA to inspect Hudaydah’s ports. Condemning the Houthi act of piracy against the civilian cargo vessel Rwabee — a dangerous escalation in the Red Sea, which requires a firm position by the Council — she also condemned an attempt by the Iran-backed Houthi militias to target Saudi Arabia’s territory with drones and ballistic missiles, and voiced support for that country’s efforts to preserve its safety and security. In addition, she stressed the need for intensified international efforts to respond to Yemen’s humanitarian needs, citing her country’s contribution of more than $6 billion since 2015.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) expressed alarm at the continued military escalation in Sana’a, Marib and the Red Sea, which exacerbates the humanitarian situation and threatens prospects for a peaceful solution. Stressing the need for an inclusive peace process, she called on parties to engage with Special Envoy Grunberg in good faith and without preconditions. She condemned the Houthi/Ansar Allah escalation, which undermines peace, and called on the group to release local Yemeni staff employed by the United States embassy in Sana’a, return seized property and relinquish control of the embassy compound. Also condemning the seizure of the Emirati vessel last week, she called on the ship and crew to be released unharmed. Turning to the continuing offensive in Marib, she pointed out that that it is fuelled by the illegal flow of weapons from Iran, adding that the smuggling of such weapons is in violation of the targeted arms embargo. She deplored acts by Houthis, including the targeted killing of female politicians and professionals, which she called “unconscionable”, and condemned all human rights abuses by all parties. On the concerning situation around the Safer oil tanker, which she called “an ecological, environmental and humanitarian time-bomb threatening the Yemeni people, fragile ecosystems, and the global supply chain”, she called on the Houthis to enable an innocuous solution.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that while urgent action is needed on several issues, from de-escalation to economic and humanitarian support, these measures will not be sustainable without a countrywide ceasefire and a comprehensive, inclusive political solution. The months-long Houthi offensive in Marib and adjoining governorates has had disastrous humanitarian consequences, especially for internally displaced persons. In Hudaydah, last November’s sudden repositioning of forces was conducted without coordination with UNMHA, undermining the Stockholm Agreement. He expressed deep concern over the seizure of an Emirati-flagged vessel by Ansar Allah last week, likewise stressing that the systematic and violent repression by the Houthis of politically and professionally active women must be halted immediately. The increased use of child soldiers by the Houthis and other actors is also deeply concerning. He underscored the imperative for all parties to guarantee full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, pointing to the lifting of restrictions on Yemen’s Red Sea ports and the Sana’a airport as crucial steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) said that her country joins the international consensus that military options will not end the war in Yemen, calling for an immediate nationwide ceasefire. The resumption of a comprehensive and inclusive political process that would forge a consensus of diverse interests and political leanings is both urgent and necessary for a sustainable peace process in Yemen. Gender mainstreaming in humanitarian response must be prioritized. The women of Yemen must be empowered as actors in the peace process and nation-building rather than remain a predominantly humanitarian dividend. Greater funding and support are needed to secure the delivery of maternal and reproductive health-care services, keep adolescent girls in school and out of marriage and provide protection from sexual and gender-based violence.

ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) expressed concern about the increasing violence in Marib, Taiz and Hudaydah, with the civilian population paying the highest price. He condemned violations of humanitarian law and noted with concern the persisting difficulties experienced by those involved in humanitarian operations. He urged the release of three United Nations workers in Sana’a and Marib and rejected the obstruction of humanitarian flights from Sana’a airport, as well as impediments to the functioning of ports, stressing that there is “no justification for such acts”. All parties must facilitate humanitarian work. On the detention of the Emirati-flagged ship, he said that is in violation of international law. He called for the provision of free navigation of vessels in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He also called for compliance with the arms embargo, recalling Council resolution 2616 (2021), which noted that marking and tracing weapons can help in the detection of violations of arms embargos.

DAI BING (China) expressed concern that in December, many of the civilian casualties were children, according to a 2021 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report. Calling on all parties to agree on an immediate ceasefire, he took note of a letter from Saudi Arabia reporting attacks by Houthis and a letter from the United Arab Emirates reporting a seizure by Houthis of its ship in the high seas. China joins condemnation of these incidents involving civilians and civilian objects. The Yemeni issue must be resolved by political means, he stressed, expressing support for the Special Envoy’s proposed approach. As the new year began, all parties must demonstrate their will to engage with the Special Envoy. Particular attention must be paid to women and youth in creating the country’s future and regional countries can play an active role in promoting peace. Given rising humanitarian needs, it is imperative to act urgently to alleviate the situation. China supports the United Nations economic framework.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said the persistent exclusion of Yemeni women from the political landscape is unjustifiable and detrimental to the realization of peace. Spotlighting the crucial role women have played in fostering peace, she reiterated her previous calls on the United Nations to insist on their participation in all peace talks facilitated by the Organization. While important, consultation should not be a substitute for meaningful participation, she stressed, adding that women must be at the negotiating table and encouraging all parties to work to that end. Calling for an immediate nationwide ceasefire, she urged the parties to end the violence against politically active women, women peacebuilders, journalists and human rights defenders, and to lift restrictions on women’s safe and unhindered freedom of movement. She also called for the removal of all restrictions on the import of fuel and food and voiced support for United Nations efforts to tackle the economic collapse in Yemen.

MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) emphasized the need for Yemeni parties to respect their obligations under international law as they scale up their military interventions. Expressing concern over the country’s underfunded humanitarian response plan, he called on the Council to consider how the United Nations can better mobilize and coordinate the delivery of aid. Amid rising instances of sexual violence, discrimination and forced marriage, more must be done to help Yemen consolidate a women, peace and security national action plan, and to reverse the exclusion of women in political and negotiation processes. Voicing concern over maritime incidents driven by regional rivalries and brinksmanship in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden — which present a threat to regional and global security — he also called for more attention to the potential effects of escalating threats to commercial traffic, such as tankers carrying oil and gas, and to the peace and security impact of weapons smuggling in the region.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that Yemenis entered the new year without the prospect for normalizing the situation in their country, citing an escalation of hostilities in Marib and Shabwa, and rising civilian casualties. The humanitarian situation has been on the brink for a long time. Not a single area of Yemen can be called stable or safe, he said, pressing all parties to ensure humanitarian access to those in need. Of serious concern are attacks on civilian targets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, he said, calling for strict adherence to international humanitarian law and an end to military operations that lead to the destruction of non-military infrastructure and civilian casualties. Such conditions call for an early launch of a full-fledged peace process, with the United Nations at the centre. The Russian Federation expects the Special Envoy to soon outline specific proposals and a road map for settlement of the conflict, which considers the views of all elements of Yemeni society. The Special Envoy should take this advice into account and adjust the strategy to the objective realities on the ground. Recalling resolution 598 (1987), he said Russian collective security concepts are aimed at fostering regional stabilization.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said the briefings confirmed that the escalation of violence in Yemen has worsened the multidimensional crisis and made opaque the prospects for peace. The situation calls for a global political solution, which includes a durable ceasefire and inclusive dialogue, which will help fulfil Yemenis’ aspirations for the restoration of State authority and stability, he said, adding that the reopening of Sana’a airport on 27 December 2021 is a step in the right direction. He called for greater commitment of the international community to alleviate the distress of tens of millions of people, pointing out that in 2021, only 58 per cent of the humanitarian budget for Yemen was fulfilled, which meant that there was a $1.6 billion shortfall. Women paid a particularly high price, facing abuse, violence and the violation of fundamental rights, he said, calling on the international community to show greater solidarity in this regard.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) said fierce clashes in Sana’a, Marib and Shabwa in recent weeks are jeopardizing the prospects for peace. The seizure and detention of the Rwabee vessel off the coast of Hudaydah earlier this month has further exacerbated tensions, he warned, urging the Houthis to immediately release the crew members and the vessel itself. Stressing that economic decline and the COVID-19 pandemic have aggravated the dire situation, he said sustained international donor assistance and both short- and long-term economic measures, as identified in the United Nations economic framework for Yemen, are necessary in order to overcome the crisis. Condemning the cross-border attacks into Saudi Arabia targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, he said all parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) expressed particular concern over the situation of women and girls in Yemen, stressing that women human rights defenders, gender equality advocates, journalists and other civil society representatives are facing increased threats and risks. Yemenis are in desperately need of an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. He called on all parties to immediately end hostilities, in line with resolution 2532 (2020), and return to meaningful peace talks with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, youth and civil society. He condemned all actions that prevent the political process from advancing, calling for the immediate release of detained United Nations personnel. He condemned impediments to aid delivery and restrictions on humanitarian workers, while strongly condemning cross-border attacks on civilian infrastructure into Saudi Arabia. He similarly recalled that a United Arab Emirates-flagged civilian cargo vessel was illegally detained by Houthi militias while in international waters, which is an act of piracy and in total breach of international law.

MONA JUUL (Norway), Council President for January, spoke in her national capacity, stressing that Yemeni women mediate humanitarian access, services and local conflicts every day. However, seven years of conflict has diminished space for women. Commending efforts to ensure an inclusive political dialogue, she said women’s meaningful inclusion must be prioritized in addressing all aspects of Yemen’s peace and security needs. Making several recommendations, she encouraged the Government to operationalize its women, peace and security strategy and to include women in decision-making and leadership positions. The international community should provide more flexible support to grassroots women’s organizations, which remain critical for communities. Further, there must be more accountability to end the cycle of impunity, and immediate steps taken to ensure women are safe to speak up and contribute to the justice process. Finally, she encouraged the Special Envoy to seek opportunities for the direct participation of Yemeni women of all political backgrounds and from all regions of the country in these efforts.

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) clarified that the Government has not set aside women during peace consultations; rather, it is the Houthis who have done so. Eight years into the conflict, no end is in sight, a fact that has created the world’s worst economic and humanitarian crisis. Despite such challenges, the Government is working to restore State institutions and has enacted many reforms. These include appointing a new management team to the Central Bank, which led to a decrease in the exchange rate for the national currency. Funding for the international humanitarian plan is crucial, and he called on stakeholders and donors to help Yemen meet its formidable challenges.

In that context, he underscored the need to pressure the Houthis to renounce violence, without which it will be impossible to restore the peace that Yemeni people yearn for. Backed by Iran, the Houthis are rejecting all peace initiatives, he said, although Yemen’s President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, is striving for a solution and supporting efforts by the United Nations and others to this end. On the brutal offensive on Marib, he said it has had a disastrous impact on refugees and internally displaced persons, leading to the displacement of 200,000 people, including women and children, in the last month alone.

The offensive, along with the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, are “proof that the Houthis do not want peace, or to commit to dialogue or a peace process”, he said, adding that the group is digging in their heels to serve the expansionist interests of Iran in the region. In the three years since the Stockholm Agreement, the Houthis have undermined it, violated the Hudaydah ceasefire, hampered United Nations activities and turned Hudaydah port into a hub for arms trafficking. He condemned the seizure of the Rwabee vessel, in violation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, urged the militia to release the ship and its crew, and called on the international community and the Council to ensure that the group ceases such practices. On the Safer tanker issue, which threatens the Red Sea, he noted that responsibility has been attributed to the Houthis over several Council meetings on the matter. The Council must now take measures to ensure a disaster does not occur. Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said most Yemenis have not received a first dose of the vaccine, despite the generosity of donors, and he urged the United Nations and its partners to provide more doses.

For information media. Not an official record.