Thank you Madam President. Let me first of all welcome the newly elected members of this Council and I hope to cooperate closely with them as with all members of the Council.
Madam President, 2022 starts off on a difficult note. The military escalation that I described in this Council last month has accelerated as the parties expand military options. Seven years after the war, the dominant belief of all warring parties seems to be that inflicting enough harm on the other will force them to submit. However, there is no lasting, long-term solution to be found on the battlefield. Therefore, I will continue to insist that warring parties can, should and even must speak out even if they are not ready to lay down their arms.
Before moving on to my main task of finding a way for the political talks to bring the conflict to a lasting end, I must highlight some of the military escalations in recent weeks which have been among the worst we have seen in Yemen in years. years, and which are causing more and more casualties among civilians.
Ansar Allah remains determined to continue his assault on Marib and fighting is resuming in Shabwa, where three districts were taken from Ansar Allah. We have seen an increase in airstrikes not only around the front lines, but also in Sana’a, including in residential areas. Airstrikes and shelling in Taiz have intensified and fighting continues in southern Hudaydah. Likewise, attacks on Saudi Arabia have also increased. All of these events resulted in civilian casualties and damaged civilian infrastructure. Beyond my repeated calls for de-escalation and restraint, I also reiterate my call on the warring parties to respect and respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, which include the protection of civilians and protected objects. I also call on all parties to preserve the civilian character of public infrastructure.
Madam President, once again we appear to be entering a cycle of escalation with foreseeable devastating consequences for civilians and for the immediate prospects for peace. I fear the battles will intensify on other fronts. Another cause for concern is the recent seizure by Ansar Allah of an Emirati-flagged vessel. Furthermore, I regret to reiterate my disappointment at the continued detention of United Nations personnel in Sanaa and Marib. The UN should have immediate access to these personnel and receive official information regarding their arrests.
Madam President, as the pace of the war accelerates, the already severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and within the country may worsen. The accusations of militarization of the ports of Hudaydah are worrying, and threats to attack them are equally worrying, given that these ports are a lifeline for many Yemenis. UNMHA is closely monitoring the situation in the ports and has requested, as part of its mandate, to undertake an inspection. Following the withdrawal of the Joint Forces on November 12, the Mission continues to engage the parties and other interlocutors on the way forward. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the appointment of Major General Michael Beary as the new head of UNMHA. His appointment provides an opportunity to capitalize on these efforts, address the concerns of the parties and move the Hudaydah Accord forward in this changed context.
Let me reiterate that restrictions on the movement of goods and people are a challenge across Yemen. The continued imposition of road and checkpoint closures across the country, as well as impediments to imports and domestic distribution of essential civilian items, including fuel, unduly harms the population. In this regard, I am concerned that the last fuel transport permit was issued on November 20, 2021. As always, it will be Yemeni civilians who will be most affected by fuel shortages.
Madam President, I am pleased that Ms. Ola Al-Aghbary is making a briefing to the Council today. As I previously reported to this Council, I was in Ms. Al-Aghbari’s hometown, Ta’izz, in November. There, I experienced the severe impact of road closures and checkpoints on the population. Likewise, the fact that the closure of the Sana’a airport has prevented northern Yemenis from traveling, including seeking life-saving medical care abroad for nearly six years, is unsustainable. As Assistant Secretary-General Rajasingham will develop, the multi-level challenges surrounding Sana’a airport operations also have critical implications for UN operations. Yemeni, regional and international leaders all have a responsibility to address these issues for the benefit of all Yemeni people. They have suffered enough from these restrictions.
Part of the population that particularly suffers from these restrictions are Yemeni women. In addition, and despite unremitting efforts, women continue to be largely excluded from decision-making in times of war and peace. My office will continue to organize consultations with women leaders of political parties, civil society and the private sector. These diverse women are all actively involved in sustaining and improving life in Yemen in different ways – from supporting their families and communities to working for peace or providing valuable goods and services. . Unfortunately, many are harassed and targeted for their work, and I therefore urge all actors to respect the rights and work of women peacekeepers and human rights defenders. I welcome the emphasis the Council Presidency has placed on the crucial women, peace and security agenda, but we all need to do more.
While events on the ground pose significant challenges to peace efforts, my work continues on the path I have set before this Council. I explored tangible ways to respond to the parties’ stated priorities and unblock a nationwide ceasefire to end the fighting. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, these efforts have run into the same hurdles that have hampered similar efforts in the past: that is, parties’ disagreements over scheduling, competing priorities, and lack of confidence. I remain convinced that part of the challenge lies in the fact that the prerequisites of the parties relate to broader political and governance issues and that as such a comprehensive political solution is needed to achieve lasting results. This will require difficult discussions with and between the belligerents and those who were left behind during the war. I will nonetheless continue to explore the options for accelerated de-escalation, if and when the parties are ready to pursue those options.
Madam President, I have focused on developing a comprehensive and inclusive multi-pronged approach that covers political, security and economic issues. This framework will aim to facilitate gradual progress in these different areas in parallel. The overall process will aim to achieve a lasting political settlement.
Over the coming period, I plan to deepen consultations, both with parties to the conflict and with a wider range of Yemeni stakeholders to identify and develop the short, medium and long term priorities that need to be addressed. addressed in each of these three areas. . As the country is increasingly fractured politically, economically and militarily, Yemenis must be supported to reverse this trajectory through a serious, sustained and structured process backed by the international community.
Madam President, it has been far too long since we have had a political process that can produce options to improve the immediate conditions and pave the way for a realistic and lasting settlement. Consultations with me and my office are a start, but they will not be enough to resolve the conflict. Ultimately, opposing Yemenis will have to come together to discuss solutions and determine their common future.
Madam Chairperson, I am fully aware of the political and military context in which my Office is trying to initiate a political process. The Yemen war, like many others, is littered with missed opportunities due in part to fighters wavering between feeling too weak to accept or too strong to settle for compromise. Genuine political will, responsible leadership and respect for the interests of the entire population are necessary to put Yemen on a different path in the long term. Furthermore, I am convinced that in order to have any chance of breaking this cycle, we must establish an inclusive political process, supported by the international community, which can provide a viable basis for peace. As I convene and consult with Yemenis on the way forward, clear and consistent support from this Council, Member States and in particular regional States will continue to be vital.
Thank you Madam President.