National Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Yemen
Statement14 January 2021
Thank you very much indeed Mr. President. Mr President, I want to start by thanking each of our three briefers this morning for their stark and really powerful messages they put before us. I want to thank each of them for the courage and the conviction that they bring to this table and I think none of us today can be in any doubt that we simply have to step up to meet our responsibilities as a Security Council as we look at Yemen. In particular, I want to say thank you to Executive Director Beasley for the extraordinary work that your aid workers are doing on the ground, but I will also say to you, I was very marked by your own remark today about the safety of your workers, and one thing I want to assure you of is Ireland’s support and concern for your work in Yemen.
I would like to acknowledge also the presence today of newly appointed Minister, Minister bin-Mubarak. Welcome to the Council Minister. We congratulate you and your colleagues on your appointment and I know we will hear from you a little bit later in the meeting. You have extraordinarily important responsibilities, unfortunately at very difficult and dark times, but Ireland certainly will work with you to be a constructive partner and to bring hope to the Yemeni people.
It is regrettable, deeply regrettable, that the first meeting of the Security Council on Yemen in 2021 takes place in the shadow of such a heinous and indiscriminate attack at Aden airport in December. This, there is no other way to put it, was an unacceptable act of violence against civilian targets. It was also a direct attack on the Yemeni government, represented right here with us today, but it was also, as I see it, an affront to UN efforts to support an inclusive peace process. We support calls for an independent investigation of the attack and we look forward to developments in that regard.
We want to offer our sincere condolences to the people of Yemen, and to those who have lost loved ones. We wish a swift recovery to all injured. Of those who tragically lost their lives, I know there were a number of International Committee of the Red Cross staff members. Their deaths serve to remind us of the daily courage and extraordinary commitment of all humanitarian workers in areas of conflict. Deputy Minister Yasmin al-Awadhi, one of the few women in the new government, was also sadly killed. We deeply regret all loss of life.
Mr. President, the Aden attack is a stark and terrible reminder of the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict in Yemen. We know, we have said it again and again, that there can be no military solution- so today again, we call on all actors in Yemen to return to the negotiating table and to demonstrate a genuine, sincere commitment to compromise and to dialogue.
We welcome recent progress towards the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, including the formation of the new power-sharing government, and call on all parties to the conflict to build on this as an opportunity and to move towards a comprehensive settlement to the conflict.
Mr Griffiths, we fully support your efforts and we call on all parties to the conflict to engage urgently and seriously with your work, including by declaring an immediate nationwide ceasefire. You yourself used the term cumbersome and frustrating as it may be, we know it is the only way forward.
I want to underline today also that we want to see all obligations under International Humanitarian law and International Human Rights Law respected.
I want to underline today, we see a way forward that in our view must be inclusive, if it is to succeed. A truly inclusive discussion on the parameters for peace in Yemen simply must include the voices of women and of young people, at every single stage of the process. Evidence shows us again and again that ensuring women’s empowerment and their full, equal and meaningful participation in decision-making is critical to conflict resolution, but also to the creation of sustainable and lasting peace. We were disappointed to note the absence of any women in the new cabinet, and we hope that this important issue of women’s inclusion in key political councils will be addressed in the very near future. As co-chair of this Council’s work on Women, Peace and Security, along with our Mexican colleagues, we plan to monitor this, to keep in touch with the Yemeni government and we hope to see progress.
Mr. President, a second terrible, horrific shadow stalks Yemen as we begin this year – that of famine. Years of conflict have created this, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and Mark Lowcock couldn’t have been clearer with us today again in reminding us that not just that by mid-2021 over half the population will face crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, but that this is a growing and accelerating crisis happening before our eyes.
Faced with such catastrophe, this Council simply must resolve to spare no effort to ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable, including all internally displaced persons and marginalised groups in Yemen.
We also believe we must make every effort to facilitate the ability of those important humanitarian workers we heard our briefers speak about earlier, to deliver aid to those in need. Put simply, lives depend on that and we all have a shared responsibility to help that at this table.
We are deeply concerned by the implications of the decision of the United States to designate the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation. We share the concerns we have heard expressed here this morning and by many other leading humanitarian actors, including Martin Griffiths, David Beasley and Mark Lowcock today. Potential humanitarian consequences of such a designation are serious, as well as the impact on prospects for progress on the political track in Yemen. We believe it is incumbent upon the United States to ensure that all possible measures are immediately taken to minimise the implications of this designation for the Yemeni people.
Ireland is also increasingly alarmed at the situation regarding the Safer Oil tanker. This is the definition of a ticking time bomb, which threatens a catastrophic environmental impact on Yemen and indeed in the region. While we welcome the incremental progress made, we call on all parties to engage in a constructive spirit to ensure UN teams can access the tanker in the very near future.
Mr President, in concluding, the shameful humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen has persisted for far too long, and threatens to get worse as we just heard today. We call on all parties to urgently do everything in their power to bring this conflict to an end, and to bring hope to the people of Yemen. Surely this Council has heard enough today to convince us of that urgency, and frankly Mr. President, surely the Yemeni people have suffered enough.