Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the Middle East (Yemen)
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Middle East (Yemen), 27 February 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr President,
I would also like to begin by thanking the Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, for his briefing to the Council today. As this is your final briefing as Special Envoy, I would like to acknowledge your determination, unwavering commitment and indispensable optimism over the last three years. It is hard to imagine a more difficult job. Let me also thank you, John, for your sobering and frank briefing on the humanitarian situation.
It is almost three months since this Council last met to discuss the situation in Yemen. This does not reflect the urgency on the ground. Since we last met, the violence has escalated and civilian casualties have continued to mount; the humanitarian situation for ordinary Yeminis is deplorable and only getting worse. This suffering stems first and foremost from the conflict.
This Council's current efforts are clearly insufficient to meet our responsibility to alleviate the world's worst humanitarian crisis and to end this bloody conflict - now in its fourth year. In recent weeks, despite the well-known differences within the Council's membership, we have worked together to find consensus on responding to the humanitarian situation in Syria.
It is now incumbent upon us to make the same effort when it comes to Yemen.
Today, I would like to focus on how we can step up our efforts on both the humanitarian and political situation in Yemen.
Regarding the humanitarian situation; we have just heard from Mr Ging, what is needed to alleviate the indescribable suffering of the 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance or protection.
Firstly, the Council must strongly reiterate the call for a durable cessation of hostilities, which we made in our Presidential Statement last June.
Secondly, we must demand that all parties fully meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law. This includes ensuring the protection of medical care and of civilians, including the most vulnerable, by taking all precautions to avoid harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. All attacks on civilians, including missile attacks by the Houthis, must be strongly condemned. We are also worried about reported attacks, threats and unlawful detention of journalists and other persons promoting freedom of expression.
Thirdly, we must help ensure full and unhindered access for humanitarian and commercial shipments. Recent positive steps taken by the coalition, including the resumption of humanitarian flights, and the delivery of cranes to Hodeida, are welcome. It is now essential to ensure that all of Yemen's ports remain open and fully functional and that there capacities increase. We call on all parties to refrain from any action that would restrict the flow of life-saving food, medicine and fuel.
Fourthly, 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan needs to be fully funded in order to allow the UN and its partners to respond to the massive Humanitarian needs. To this end and has been noted this morning, Sweden and Switzerland, together with the United Nations will host the 2018 High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen on 03 April in Geneva. We encourage all member-states to participate and to pledge generously. We appreciate the generous pledges already made by the coalition.
Finally, as we were able to do over the weekend in response to the humanitarian situation in Syria, the Council should speak clearly and set the standards for responding to the humanitarian situation in Yemen. We should now focus our efforts on uniting around this task.
Moving to the political situation.
The appointment of a new Special Envoy offers an opportunity to relaunch the political process. It is essential that the Council unites in giving strong and practical support to the new Special Envoy, Mr. Martin Griffiths, to create the conditions needed seize this opportunity.
Members of the Council and regional actors must use all their influence to ensure that the parties engage constructively with the Mr. Griffiths, his Office and the UN-led process in good faith and without preconditions.
A political solution can only be achieved through a broad and inclusive political process. We should strive, in our efforts to help the Special Envoy, to rekindle the initial spirit of the National Dialogue Conference, and insist on meaningful political participation by a broad range of Yemeni actors, including women, youth and marginalized groups.
The situation in Yemen is desperate. Civilians live in constant fear for their lives. It is beyond time that the international community, including this Council, gives the situation the attention it deserves.