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 the Middle East, Yemen, 23 October 2018, New York.
Thank you very much, Mr. President,
I want to start by expressing our condolences and sympathies to the government and people of Yemen following the devastating tropical cyclone.
Mr. President, I also want to thank Mark Lowcock for his update and for having drawn our attention to the acute food crisis, indeed famine, in Yemen, as foreseen in resolution 2417. Mark, you and the Humanitarian Coordinator Ms. Grande have our wholehearted support in your efforts, as do all the UN personnel and all humanitarians inside Yemen, working in what we understand are extremely challenging and difficult circumstances.
I want to focus mainly on the economic crisis and on the military escalation in Yemen, two factors that are aggravating the humanitarian disaster that has been the predictable, but not inevitable, effect of the conflict being played out in Yemen.
First, on the economy. The numbers presented today are just staggering. As we’ve heard, if the current economic crisis continues, an additional 5.6 million people could risk severe food insecurity in the coming months. This would add to the individual catastrophe of millions and bring the total number of people in pre-famine conditions to 14 million. This famine as a result of a man-made situation right before our eyes and on our watch.
To help reverse these trends, we support Mark Lowcocks call today for urgent measures to stabilize the Yemeni economy. This includes:
· Expanding liquidity to stabilize the currency.
· Expediting applications for lines of credit for importers of core commodities, and holding back on restrictions in this area.
· Ensuring payments of civil servants – teachers as first step – as well as pensioners in the northern part of the country. We welcome the announcement today that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will provide teacher allowances across the country, and we heard Mark Lowcock’s further recommendations in this area.
But, Mr. President - and turning now to my second point on the military escalation - these economic measures are far from enough.
The economic collapse and food security crisis is not happening in a vacuum. It is a direct consequence of the ongoing conflict, and aggravated by the current military escalation. This connection is painfully apparent in Hodeida, where the fighting is not only causing civilian casualties, but also affecting both aid operations and commercial imports. We remain particularly concerned about the continued fighting on the main road to Sanaa, as it is impacting the vital supply chain and life-line to Northern Yemen, as well as of the occupation of humanitarian warehouses and the blocked access to the vital milling facility.
Today, this Council has once again been put on high alert and we have a responsibility to respond. Based on resolution 2417 addressing conflict-induced food insecurity, and as agreed in Presidential Statements already earlier this year, it is now time to come together and make urgent demands equally critical.
· First, a durable ceasefire, at least for the purpose set out by Mark.
· Second, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need: ports and key roads kept open and functioning, including Hodeida and Saleef. Commercial imports should also be maintained and expanded into all ports.
· Third, respect for International Humanitarian Law in all circumstances, including by protecting civilians, medical-, humanitarian and UN personnel across the country, and meeting the basic needs of the civilian population.
And fourth, Mr. President, the Council should call with urgency and in good faith for the parties to engage in a UN-led inclusive political process. As a Council we should step up our efforts to support Martin Griffiths in his commendable efforts. If we are serious in our constant call that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen, then it is only through a negotiated political solution that this war and the immense suffering that it has caused to the people of Yemen, can come to an end.
Thank you very much Mr. President.