Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Yemen
Statement16 March 2021
Thank you very much indeed Madam President and thanks, as always of course, to Special Envoy Griffiths and Under-Secretary General Lowcock for their briefings. Ms. Shawkey, we particularly welcome hearing your voice here today. We know the incredible work that Care International and other non-governmental organisations do on the ground in Yemen, and I have to say you struck a particularly deep chord with all of us this morning, bringing a perspective of the depth and the seriousness of this humanitarian crisis right across Yemen, so thank you.
Madam President, even by our own standards here in discussion of Yemen, I have to say that both Martin and Mark’s briefings have been particularly sobering today.
We have clearly reached a critical point in the conflict in Yemen – described as “a moment of great fragility”. We welcome Special Envoy Griffiths relentless efforts together with other Envoys, despite conditions on the ground, to try to inject new political momentum into these talks. We see that as a shared objective for a genuine and inclusive political process, bringing what I can only describe as a modicum of hope to the increasingly desperate Yemeni people. Putting an end to fighting, we know, offers the only route to bringing an end to this conflict and to bringing an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people. We implore all actors to hear the call of the Yemeni people, of the international community, to end the fighting and to end it now.
The overwhelming humanitarian crisis in Yemen makes it really imperative that there is an urgent end to this conflict, so I am reiterating this Council’s call for immediate de-escalation and a nationwide ceasefire, as we have outlined in Resolution 2564, adopted just four weeks ago.
The ongoing Houthi escalation in Marib, in an area we have already heard has one million people already internally displaced, continues to be deeply worrying and clearly inflicts unacceptable civilian suffering. We once again call on the Houthis to cease this offensive immediately without preconditions. Ireland condemns in the strongest possible terms the intensified cross-border attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We are also concerned by the increased attacks on Sana’a, and call for a de-escalation and ceasefire. Violations of international humanitarian and human rights law continue to be perpetrated at what are now alarming levels.
It is quite simply fundamental to everything we have heard from the speakers this morning that all parties in Yemen turn towards peace. There are no two ways to say this. This is the time to return to the negotiating table.
The insidious, and I would say horrific link between conflict and hunger that we discussed in this Council under your presidency just last week is absolutely crystal clear in Yemen. As Martin Griffith pointed out, these are not coincidences. It is difficult to overstate the peril of food insecurity facing most Yemenis as a result of this conflict, and Mark Lowcock’s repeated reference to a protracted process of prolonged starvation is truly a shocking indictment of the situation we find ourselves in as an international community. We know that it is a struggle on a daily basis for people simply to survive, with half of the population facing acute food shortages, and millions (we repeat this to ourselves – millions) facing famine. Half of all children under five in Yemen will face acute malnutrition this year, with nearly 400,000 suffering already from severe acute malnutrition and likely to die if we do not ensure they get urgent assistance. The international community shares responsibility for that situation. We must step up to ensure adequate humanitarian assistance reaches those facing those multiple threats to their survival. We share the Secretary-General’s concerns about resources for humanitarian assistance following the pledging conference at the beginning of this month.
A further catastrophic humanitarian and environmental threat looms also in the form of the Safer Oil Tanker. We call once more on the Houthis to facilitate immediate access for an assessment to be carried out. We have seen previous explosions and oil spills in recent memory cause tremendous devastation and lasting impact. For the Houthis to allow this catastrophe to unfold, when help is being offered, would be simply unforgivable.
At last week’s Arria-formula meeting, which Ireland hosted, and you indeed participated in, we heard the strong support of Member States for the direct and substantive participation of women in UN-led peace processes, including in Yemen. Twelve Security Council members sponsored that call. I echo the words of the Yemeni woman peacebuilder Rasha Jarhum who joined us at that meeting and said “without women, and without gender equality, peace is not an attainable goal”.
As we look with hope to the potential of new diplomatic efforts, despite everything we have heard today, we reiterate the fundamental point that no negotiating table should be without women. We must reject and address barriers to the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in political and public life. We call for an end to the human rights violations that aim to prevent such participation, such as arbitrary detention and sexual and gender-based violence. This Council took concrete steps towards this goal with the adoption of Resolution 2564 last month, but we can and must do more. We cannot accept that it be otherwise.
Thank you Madam President.