The Situation in the Middle East (Yemen) - Security Council, 8946th meeting
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Security Council, 8946th meeting.


Permanent Representative Blames Houthis for Eschewing Peace Initiatives, Side-Lining Women in Consultations

With warring parties locked in a cycle of distrust and disagreement over competing priorities, efforts to resolve the conflict in Yemen — now in its eighth year — are hitting the same obstacles as in years past, the senior United Nations mediator told the Security Council today as delegates explored ways to harness the power of women in charting the country’s future.

“Yemenis must be supported in reversing this trajectory through a serious, sustained and structured process backed by the international community,” said Hans Grundberg, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, who described the country as increasingly fractured — politically, economically and militarily.

He noted that 2022 started on a challenging note, with a Houthi offensive in Marib governorate and parties doubling down on military options. “There is no sustainable solution to be found on the battlefield,” he stressed, urging the sides to talk, even if they are not ready to lay down their arms.

The Special Envoy said he is focused on developing a comprehensive, inclusive multitrack approach that covers political, security and economic issues. This framework will aim to facilitate incremental progress in each of these areas, as part of an overall process to reach a durable political settlement. His Office will continue to convene consultations with women leaders from political parties, civil society and the private sector.

Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, agreed that “recent developments do not give us — or the people of Yemen — much cause for optimism”.

He said fierce fighting has continued along dozens of front lines, with clashes in Al Jawf, Marib and Shabwah displacing more than 15,000 people over the past month alone. In December, 358 civilians were reportedly killed or injured as a direct result of the hostilities, he stressed, urging all parties to spare civilians and civilian objects, as required by international humanitarian law.

And as in many crises, women and girls are bearing the brunt, he said, facing heightened risks of sexual and gender-based violence. He underscored the need to create a more enabling environment for women aid workers, promote gender parity among staff and support more investments in gender-sensitive programming. Noting that the 2022 aid operation is expected to need roughly as much money as in 2021 — $3.9 billion to help 16 million people — he called on all donors to sustain and, if possible, to increase their support.

Also briefing the Council was Ola Al-Aghbary, a local mediator from the south-western city of Taiz, who is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sheba Youth Foundation for Development. Drawing attention to the success of local mediation efforts, she said her group has set up community councils that work to resolve conflicts daily — efforts that have made a real difference in the lives of local citizens, who are unsupported and suffering.

She pointed out that the role of youth and women is not limited to local action; they are also striving to reach the national scale through participation in peace negotiations underway between warring factions, in coordination with peace organizations, youth groups and the Special Envoy’s office. Support is needed to ensure their involvement through the establishment of consultative councils, in line with resolutions 1325 (2000) and 2250 (2015), she said.

In the ensuing discussion, Norway’s representative, Security Council President for January, spoke in her national capacity to stress that Yemeni women mediate humanitarian access, services and local conflicts every day. She urged the Government to operationalize its women, peace and security strategy and to include women in decision-making and leadership positions. She also encouraged the Special Envoy to seek opportunities for the direct participation of Yemeni women of all political backgrounds and from all regions of the country in these efforts.

Ghana’s delegate said gender mainstreaming must be prioritized in the humanitarian response. The women of Yemen must be empowered as actors in the peace process and in nation-building, rather than remain a predominantly humanitarian dividend. Greater funding and support are needed to secure the delivery of maternal and reproductive health care, keep adolescent girls in school and out of marriage and provide protection from sexual and gender-based violence.

Along the same lines, the United Kingdom’s representative underlined the urgent need to tackle the insufficient protections in many camps. Women will never be safe unless there is adequate provision of sex-separated facilities for women, including toilets, she added.

Many delegates voiced deep concern over the escalating violence and deteriorating humanitarian conditions, with India’s representative warning that fierce clashes in Sana’a, Marib and Shabwa are jeopardizing peace prospects, while the seizure of the Emirati-flagged ship off the coast of Hudaydah has only exacerbated the tensions.

On that point, the representative of United Arab Emirates condemned the Houthi act of piracy against the civilian cargo vessel Rwabee — a dangerous escalation in the Red Sea, which requires a firm position by the Council. She also condemned an attempt by Iran-backed Houthi militias to target Saudi Arabia’s territory with drones and ballistic missiles, noting more broadly that her country has contributed more than $6 billion to help meet Yemen’s humanitarian needs.

Taking the floor after the Council members, Yemen’s representative clarified that the Government has not set aside women during peace consultations; rather, it is the Houthis who have done so and who are rejecting all peace initiatives. In contrast, Yemen’s Government is working to restore State institutions and has enacted many reforms. Faced with the world’s worst economic and humanitarian crisis, President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi is striving for a solution and supporting efforts by the United Nations and others to this end.

Also speaking today were representatives of France, United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Ireland, Kenya, Russian Federation, Gabon and Albania.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:01 p.m.