The situation in the Middle East - Security Council, 9063rd meeting
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01:52:51
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Summary
The situation in the Middle East.
Description

Permanent Representative Urges International Community to Pressure Militias, Sponsors That Are Undermining Political Settlement

With the truce in Yemen extended for another two months — markedly improving the humanitarian situation and significantly reducing civilian casualties — efforts towards a lasting peace must be further consolidated, the Special Envoy for that country told the Security Council today, as members welcomed this positive development while also highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by the Yemeni people as a result of the seven-year-old conflict.

Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, reported that the truce has been holding in Yemen for two and a half months — unprecedented during this war and seemingly unimaginable at the beginning of 2022.  The parties recently extended the truce until 2 August, and it continues to hold in military terms, leading to a significant reduction in civilian casualties.  However, unexploded ordnance continues to claim lives, and there are reports from both sides regarding alleged violations.  To prevent a new cycle of violence, his office convened new meetings of the military coordination committee, which has agreed to meet monthly.

He stressed, however, that the truce must work to alleviate the suffering of the people of Taïz, describing a recent visit in which he witnessed how severe restrictions have crippled the economy, worsened access to health care and made travel difficult for civilians.  His office has developed a proposal for the phased opening of roads, to which the Government has responded positively.  Reporting that Ansar Allah has yet to respond, he urged them to do so without delay.  “The truce offers a rare opportunity to pivot towards peace that should not be lost,” he emphasized.

Ghada Mudawi, Acting Director of the Operations Division of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, echoing the Special Envoy’s assessment of the truce’s impact on the country, said the humanitarian crisis remains as severe today as it did before the truce.  Yemen is particularly vulnerable to the supply chain shocks emanating from the war in Ukraine as it depends on imports.  Beyond the food sector, huge gaps continue in services such as water, health and education.  Mine action is also urgently needed, and aid agencies are facing alarming levels of insecurity.

Despite these challenges, she pointed out that agencies are still delivering aid across Yemen, reaching 11 million people every month.  Still, the United Nations response plan is currently just 26 per cent funded and many essential programmes are scaling back when they should be expanding.  To make matters worse, the cost of humanitarian aid in Yemen is increasing due to rising global prices.  In addition, the project to prevent a catastrophic spill from the Safer oil tanker is stalled due to lack of funds.  “This issue, as you know, becomes more dangerous by the hour,” she stated.

Azal al-Salafi, Protection and Advocacy Officer at the Peace Track Initiative, pointed out that the participation of women in peace and political processes remains below the agreed-upon 30 per cent quota, and the committees formed as a result of the peace process still count no women among their members.  Highlighting the Feminist Peace Roadmap and thanking the Council for reflecting the Roadmap’s recommendations in the resolution adopted last February on inclusion and multitrack design, she urged the international community to support the Roadmap by considering it as a reference to the peace process.

In the ensuing discussion, Council members praised the agreement between Yemen's internationally recognized Government and Ansar Allah to extend the truce for two months.  However, many also expressed concern over the danger of unexploded ordnance, the looming environmental and humanitarian disaster threatened by the Safer oil tanker, recruitment of children and road closures around the city of Taïz.

On that point, the representative of the United Arab Emirates urged the Special Envoy to deepen his efforts to open the main roads in Taïz, which will contribute to confidence-building between the parties.  “The remarkable progress in the past two months brings hope that developments are proceeding in the right direction,” she said.  Yet, she also noted that, despite the current truce, the Houthis continue to mobilize, recruit and spread an extremist ideology in so called “summer camps”.

Brazil’s representative similarly called for efforts to monitor Ansar Allah’s commitment to cease recruiting and using children, as well as its commitment to release, rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society.  Additionally, the food security crisis in Yemen has been worsened by the unilateral economic measures of a few countries, and he encouraged donors to fully fund the United Nations humanitarian response plan.

The representative of Ghana also expressed concern that an estimated 19 million Yemenis are likely to face acute food insecurity in the second half of 2022, with about 161,000 people projected to experience famine-like situations.  The high risk of catastrophic spillage by the Safer oil tanker and the ensuing environmental and humanitarian disaster remains an urgent issue.  He called on the international community to bridge the huge revenue shortfall of almost 74 per cent of the $4.28 billion needed for the United Nations humanitarian response plan.

India’s representative joined others in spotlighting the threat posed by the Safer, welcoming pledges by certain countries to address this issue, along with the United Nations’ crowdfunding campaign to bridge the funding gap.  He also joined other speakers in urging that immediate progress be made on opening the roads to Taïz.  This is not only a humanitarian imperative, he stressed, but also crucial to ensuring that the implementation of the truce agreement is not “lop‑sided”.

The representative of Yemen said that the decision of the Presidential Leadership Council [the executive body of Yemen's internationally recognized Government] to extend the truce for two months was based on that body’s rejection of the use of humanitarian needs as leverage.  However, the Houthis continue to renege on their commitments, he said, adding that they have planted landmines indiscriminately, violate the truce daily, and are using the Safer as a bargaining chip.

Stressing that these militias do not care about the suffering of Yemenis — only political gain — he called on the international community and the Council to pressure the militias and their sponsors that are trying to undermine a political settlement.  “Peace cannot be achieved without a genuine, true partner,” he added.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Gabon, Russian Federation, Mexico, United States, China, Kenya, Ireland, Norway, France and Albania.

The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 4:53 p.m.