Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen
Swedish statement delivered by Minister Councellor Joakim Vaverka on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen), 2 August 2018, New York.
As this is our first open meeting under the United Kingdom presidency of the Security Council, I want to take this opportunity to wish you the very best for the month ahead. We look forward to working with you and your team, and assure you of our full cooperation.
I also want to thank the Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, for his important briefing to the Council today. We fully support work to forge a political agreement to end the conflict in Yemen. I also thank OCHA Director, John Ging, for his comprehensive briefing on the humanitarian situation in the country.
Let me turn first to the political situation. We commend Special Envoy Griffiths for his determined and active diplomatic efforts, including his important visits to Yemen and the region. These efforts have helped create a window of opportunity to restart negotiations on Hodeidah, and on a wider political settlement to end this conflict – and the intolerable suffering of the civilian population. All parties must seize this opportunity, and engage sincerely and constructively with the Envoy, in good faith and without preconditions. We call for an overall de-escalation to create an environment conducive for talks.
This includes a halt to missile attacks and threats against shipping in the Red Sea, as well as airstrikes and fighting in civilian areas – actions we have repeatedly condemned. The Council must also increase its efforts to encourage engagement and de-escalation by the parties. We echo the call of the Special Envoy on the parties to:
i) Fully suspend or freeze fighting in Hodeidah.
ii) Engage in the upcoming political consultations, in Geneva, based on the Envoy's framework presented to the Council on 18 June;
iii) Ensure the effective inclusion and participation of women in any political consultations;
iv) Respect International Humanitarian Law, including the protection of civilians and medical care, as well as ensuring humanitarian access; and,
v) Exchange detainees and prisoners detained as a result of the conflict as a confidence building measure.
I would now like to turn to the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. As we just heard from Mr Ging, 22 million people – or three out of every four Yemenis – are in need of humanitarian assistance or protection.
We share the concerns outlined by Mr Ging in his briefing. And let me pause here to join the Special Envoy and others to praise the work of the brave humanitarians on the ground. We are encouraged to see Hodeidah and Saleef ports open and functioning. As a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, it is essential that they remain that way. At the same time, we are concerned by reports of the risk of reduced commercial imports, including food and fuel.
The continued pause in the offensive is encouraging. However, the reported escalation last week including in Hodeidah is a cause for concern. Like others, we are deeply concerned by reports of the attack this morning on a hospital and a fish market in Hodeidah, which reportedly led to a significant loss of life. As we have repeatedly heard from the United Nations and its partners: A full-scale offensive against Hodeidah would aggravate the humanitarian disaster even further, risk hundreds of thousands of lives, a new widespread cholera epidemic and famine. Urban warfare or a siege would be equally catastrophic.
Since the outbreak of the conflict three years ago, 3 million children have been born in Yemen. Hodeidah alone is home to 300 000 children. We are deeply troubled by the disastrous effects of the humanitarian situation for children in Hodeidah, and beyond, including the risk of stunting, which was already staggeringly high in Yemen before the crisis began. As we agreed during the debate on Children and Armed Conflict on 9 July, when the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2427, we have a responsibility to do all we can to protect children trapped in conflict. The best way to do so in Yemen is by preventing this conflict from entering into its fourth year.
Thank you, Madam President.