Open Letter to the UN Secretary-General for immediate action on Yemen

Report
from Norwegian Refugee Council
Published on 21 Aug 2017

Letter sent to Secretary-General Guterres, all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council and EU High Representative Mogherini.

OSLO/NORWAY 18 August 2017

Dear Secretary-General Guterres,

I write to appeal for your immediate action in response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. As you are aware, cholera has spread at an alarming rate due to decimated public services, destroyed infrastructure, and the deliberate strangulation of transport routes. In May, when I visited Yemen, there were 2000 suspected cases of cholera. Today, reports indicate more than half a million cases. 14.5 million people are without access to safe drinking water. The level of food insecurity is devastating, and the threat of famine is real. Almost seven million are at risk of starvation. The conflict is also seriously affecting access to health services and education.

Parties to the conflict have pushed an already fragile and impoverished country towards collapse. They continue to hinder access and import of essential goods to Yemen. Bureaucratic impediments prevent the movement of critical aid supplies and personnel. The lack of salary payments to public servants has crippled public services and commercial activities.

Yemen is at the brink of becoming a failed state, but we have a small window to prevent the total collapse of public services and institutions. Immediate and decisive action by Security Council Members can reverse the crisis and I have therefore urged them to act. I would also like to appeal for your leadership in calling for and working towards:

  • An unconditional, country-wide ceasefire to allow for the delivery of aid to the areas most affected by cholera and the threat of famine.

  • The US, UK, EU and other key donors to come together and find a way to restore basic public services, including salaries for essential employees, to tackle the cholera crisis.

  • Pressing all parties to end attacks on civilians and urge them to engage in peace talks, and to comply with international humanitarian law in accordance with the Statement by the President of the Security Council of 15 June 2017 (S/PRST/2017/7).

  • Authorities, at all levels, across Yemen to remove all bureaucratic impediments to the safe and rapid movement of humanitarian supplies and personnel to affected areas, and facilitate access for the import and distribution of food, fuel, and medical supplies.

  • A high-level visit to Yemen, led by yourself, to assess and help address the humanitarian situation.

Sincerely yours,

Jan Egeland

Secretary General, Norwegian Refugee Council

CC: Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF David Beasley, Executive Director WFP Tedros Adhanom, Director-General WHO Filippo Grandi, High-Commissioner UNHCR