Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen
National Statement by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in Yemen, 12 July 2017, New York.
I would first like to thank the Special Envoy, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, for his briefing and for his efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, in a situation that has gone from bad, even desperate, to worse. I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Stephen O'Brien, the Director-General of the FAO, Mr. José Graziano da Silva, and the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for their valuable contributions today and I want to pay tribute to the UN and all humanitarian actors present on the ground, who continue to deliver live-saving support to all those in need in what is very challenging circumstances. This merits action on many fronts.
Firstly, we all know that a political solution is the only way to end the conflict in Yemen. We reiterate our continued support for the Special Envoy and his efforts to achieve a resumed UN-led political process and a durable Cessation of Hostilities. As this Council stated only a month ago, it is time for the parties to resume peace talks and engage constructively and in good faith. Women's participation in such talks is, as is well-known, critical.
Secondly, as our briefers have clearly reminded us today, the humanitarian situation in Yemen has further deteriorated since we last met. And this was only six weeks ago. It is an entirely man-made tragedy. As often in cases of armed conflict, the civilian population, children particularly, are suffering.
We are horrified by the rapid spread of cholera to all of Yemen's governorates. This is described as the worst cholera outbreak in the world. When you Mr. O'Brien spoke to the Council on 30 May, only a little more than a month ago, you reported 55,000 suspected cases and it has now surged to over 300,000. That increase is as much as 15,000-20,000 per day with over 1,700 associated deaths in just 75 days.
We also know that Yemen is on the brink of famine. Yemen is the largest food insecurity emergency in the world and more than 17 million people, almost two thirds of the population, are food insecure. And 6.8 million Yemenis are living just one step from famine.
So we need to immediately mobilise funds. We call on donors to deliver on their commitments made at the Geneva Pledging Conference for Yemen that was held on 25 April that the Swedish and Swiss Foreign Ministers hosted together with the Secretary-General. But even that, those commitments made in Geneva will not be sufficient to meet the enormous humanitarian needs. So we call for additional funding to the UN humanitarian response plan for Yemen.
Finally, in addition to more funding, there is an urgent need for greater humanitarian access and full respect for international humanitarian law. We repeat the Council's call in the PRST last month on all parties to allow for safe, rapid, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access and to facilitate access for essential food, fuel and medical supplies throughout the country in accordance with international humanitarian law. It is important to keep all Yemen's ports functioning, including Houdeidah port, as a critical lifeline for the humanitarian response.
The parties now need to urgently comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law. We remain concerned about the high number of deaths of civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure, particularly medical facilities and personnel. Medical facilities are needed not only to give medical care, but also to fight cholera.
As the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen stated recently, "We must give hope to millions of Yemenis by showing that the world is not indifferent to their suffering".
I thank you very much.