Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Yemen
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Yemen, 21 September 2018, New York.
Thank you very much Madam President,
And thank you very much Mark Lowcock for your sobering update today. You and all humanitarians working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering and to save lives, have our full and wholehearted support, and you should be congratulated on an ambitious and effective relief effort under what we understand to be overwhelming circumstances.
The briefing today demonstrates the desperate urgency of the humanitarian situation. The people of Yemen are already suffering the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, and with the recent deteriorating security environment, the situation is getting worse by the day. Civilian causalities are increasing, medical facilities are no longer functioning, disease is spreading, hunger is growing and the humanitarian space to reach those in need is again shrinking.
The recent fighting on the main road between Hodeida and Sanaa is now of most utmost urgent concern. Disruption of this critical supply chain would have disastrous humanitarian consequences. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk in Hodeida, and millions more in other governorates, if Hodeida is cut off from the northern parts of the country. An additional 1 million children in Yemen now risk descending into famine, bringing the total number of children at risk to 5.2 million, as we’ve heard.
In the face of such a dramatic humanitarian situation, the demands from this Council, as agreed in our Presidential Statement from March, need to be repeated loud and clear:
· First, steps need to be taken toward an urgent cessation of hostilities, in order to promote the political process and, above all, protect the civilian population.
· Secondly, safe and unhindered humanitarian access needs to be ensured, including full functioning of key ports and roads. Humanitarian personnel must be allowed to carry out their mission to save lives across the whole country - unhindered and without risking their own safety.
· And third, respect for international humanitarian law needs to be safeguarded, including the protection of civilians, and medical and humanitarian personnel.
The three asks by Mark Lowcock today, stabilize economy, protect civilians and ensuring medical assistance and evacuation, make perfect sense, and should be heeded.
After years of bloody conflict, it is evident that there is no military solution to the crisis in Yemen. Intensified diplomatic efforts are instead urgently needed to find a peaceful solution. We commend the Government of Yemen for their constructive approach in these recent efforts, and we find it deeply regrettable that the Houthis did now show up in Geneva and has continued their military activities. But, the temporary setback in Geneva cannot be an excuse for a return to violence. The recent escalation does not only aggravate the humanitarian situation, it also undermines the prospects for a political process. All sides will lose.
We have again today been put on notice. It is unbearably frustrating that this year, 2018, we are hearing about massive famine and cholera outbreaks, fully preventable things. We simply cannot sit idly by as the lives of millions of innocent civilians are at risk. The Security Council must remain actively engaged, step up our efforts in support of the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths and Mark Lowcock. We must call, and repeat, and remind of our unified call on all parties to engage in good faith in an inclusive UN-led political process - without preconditions, but with dedication, energy and serious commitment. The High-Level week, as the UK Ambassador said, coming up now, should be used as an opportunity in this regard.
The people of Yemen have already paid an unacceptably high price for this senseless war.
I thank you very much Madam President.